Vice President Joe Biden is the chairman of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, which released its annual report last week that examines the state of the American middle class. The report, which was presented to President Obama on Friday, discusses steps that the Administration is taking to combat the challenges facing the largest socio-economic class in the country: joblessness, childcare costs, care-giving for the elderly or those with disabilities, student loan payments, and retirement security.
Because childcare continues to become more expensive, the proposed fiscal year 2011 budget proposes doubling the Child and Dependant Care Tax Credit for families making under $85,000 a year. Another monetary monopoly for the middle class is elder care, so in addition to the proposed budget increase for the Child Care and Development Fund ($1.6 billion), there are budget boosts aimed at allowing seniors to live in the community for as long as possible. Also garnering a lot of attention is the strengthening to the Income-Based Repayment plan for student loans and the requirement that companies that do not already offer a retirement plan to implement a payroll-deduction IRA for any interested employees.
Leading policy experts and advocates from across the country—and sector lines—have shown support for the new proposals. Letters arrived at the White House to commend the amendments backing student loan reform, helping families with high child-care costs, enhancing retirement security, and supporting family caregivers. In conjunction with the Small Business Agenda and the Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, the Administration has made it priority clear—to ensure that the Middle Class comes out of the recession stronger than when it began.
The Task Force
The Task Force includes top-level Administration agencies, like the Secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Energy, the Treasury, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Agriculture. The Directors of the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Domestic Policy Council; the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers; and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency are also members of the Task Force. Combined, these experts in their various fields intend to enhance the quality of life for the American middle class, from childhood to retirement, and to restore faith in the issues that are critical to its members’ everyday lives and aspirations.