From Monday's inbox:
President Obama and Vice President Biden Preview Initiatives for Middle Class Families Discussion Previews a Key Theme for State of the Union Address
Today President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will hold a meeting of the Middle Class Task Force, where they will lay out key investments for middle class families. Today's discussion will preview one of the key themes of the President's State of the Union address, which include creating good jobs, addressing the deficit, changing Washington, and fighting for middle class families.
President Obama said, "We are fighting every single day to put Americans back to work, create good jobs, and strengthen our economy for the long-term. The additional steps laid out today focus on easing the burdens on middle class families who are struggling in this economy, and providing the help they need to get ahead."
"Every day, middle class families go to work and help make this country great. For a year, our Task Force has been hearing that they are struggling with soaring costs and squeezed family budgets. These common sense initiatives will help these families cope with these challenges," said Vice President Biden.
After traveling across the country the past year talking with families, caregivers, educators, students, seniors, as well as policy makers and experts, Chair of the White House Task Force on Middle Class Families Vice President Joe Biden will join President Obama to announce several recommendations of the Task Force. These initiatives, borne out of the meetings, travel and work of the Task Force, are aimed at helping middle class families afford soaring child care costs; care for their aging relatives; cope with the challenge of saving for retirement; and pay for their children's college tuition.
Since its creation one year ago this week, the Middle Class Task Force has held 11 meetings around the country and at the White House. At these meetings, Vice President Biden heard from parents who were grappling with the costs of child care; students coming out of college drowning in debt; children of elderly relatives struggling to care for them; and workers who were barely able to pay their mortgage, much less save for retirement.
As a result of these meetings, conversations and feedback from around the country, the Vice President and the Task Force will propose several policy initiatives to help middle class families:
1. Nearly Doubling the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for middle class families making under $85,000 a year. This is accomplished by increasing their tax credit rate from 20% to 35% of qualifying expenses. The value of the tax credit nearly doubles for all families making under $85,000 a year, and every family that makes under $115,000 will see their tax credit increase.
Additionally, for families struggling to join the middle class, the administration will provide a $1.6 billion increase in child care funding, the largest one-year increase in 20 years, to help an additional 235,000 children.
2. Limiting a student's federal loan payments to 10 percent of his or her income above a basic living allowance. This will lower payments for hundreds of thousands of students, who are struggling to make ends meet coming out of college.
3. Creating a system of automatic workplace IRAs, requiring all employers to give the option for employees to enroll in a direct-deposit IRA.
4. Expanding tax credits to match retirement savings and enacting new safeguards to protect retirement savings, making it easier for families to plan for retirement.
5. Expanding support for families balancing work with caring for elderly relatives, helping them manage their multiple responsibilities and allowing seniors to live in the community for as long as possible.
The Task Force's final report, and full recommendations, will be released in February.
Additional information about these Middle Class Task Force initiatives is included in the attached fact sheet.
About the Middle Class Task Force: The Task Force, Chaired by Vice President Joe Biden, is a group of top-level administration policy makers, charged with the mission of focusing on developing policies aimed at raising the living standards of middle-class, working families in America.
Since its creation on January 30, 2009, the Middle Class Task Force has held 11 meetings around the country and at the White House:
Â· February 27, 2009: Green Jobs (Philadelphia, PA)
Â· March 17, 2009: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Middle Class Families (St. Cloud, MN)
Â· April 17, 2009: College Affordability (St. Louis, MO)
Â· May 26, 2009: Green Jobs (Denver, CO)
Â· June 23, 2009: Manufacturing in the 21st Century (Perrysburg, OH)
Â· July 10, 2009: Health Reform Roundtable (The White House)
Â· July 16, 2009: AARP/Health Care Reform Discussion (Arlington, Virginia)
Â· September 9, 2009: Access to College (Syracuse, NY)
Â· October 19, 2009: Middle Class Recovery Through Retrofit (The White House)
Â· November 5, 2009: Roundtable with Policy Experts (Washington, DC)
Â· December 16, 2009: Roundtable with Leaders in Manufacturing Sector (The White House)
Members of the Task Force include: Vice President Biden, Chair; the Secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Energy, Treasury, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Agriculture; the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; as well as the Directors of the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Domestic Policy Council, and the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors.
To read reports released by the Middle Class Task Force, please visit: www.WhiteHouse.Gov/AStrongMiddleClass.