WASHINGTON--President Obama tapped Vice President Biden to lead a middle class working families task force. In announcing the drive, Obama and Biden welcomed organized labor back to White House, after unions spent eight years in exile during the Bush administration.
Biden went out of his way to promise transparency in his task force--taking a big swipe, it seemed at former Vice President Cheney who allowed no public input into the fairly secret energy task force he headed. Of course, bring up transparency and task forces also behooves me to bring up how former First Lady, now Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton caught enormous criticism because her health care task force was run out of the sunlight.
The Obama White House may make mistakes--how could it not--but it is not going to repeat mistakes of prior administrations.
Click below for White House fact sheet on task force.
White House Announces Middle Class Task Force
Washington, DC - President Barack Obama today announced the creation of a White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families to be chaired by Vice President Joe Biden. The Task Force is a major initiative targeted at raising the living standards of middle-class, working families in America. It is comprised of top-level administration policy makers, and in addition to regular meetings, it will conduct outreach sessions with representatives of labor, business, and the advocacy communities.
President Obama said: "The strength of our economy can be measured by the strength of our middle class. That is why I have signed a memorandum to create the Task Force on Middle-Class Working Families - and why I have asked my Vice President to lead it. This is a difficult moment. But I believe, if we act boldly and swiftly, it can be an American moment - when we work through our differences and overcome our divisions to face this crisis."
Vice President Biden said: "America's middle class is hurting. Trillions of dollars in home equity and retirement savings and college savings are gone. And every day, more and more Americans are losing their jobs. President Obama and I are determined to change this. Quite simply, a strong middle class equals a strong America. We can't have one without the other. This Task Force will be an important vehicle to assess new and existing policies across the board and determine if they are helping or hurting the middle class. It is our charge to get the middle class - the backbone of this country - up and running again."
The Vice President and members of the task force will work with a wide array of federal agencies that have responsibility for key issues facing middle class and working families, and expedite administrative reforms, propose Executive orders, and develop legislative and policy proposals that can be of special importance to working families.
The White House unveiled today the initial version of the Task Force's new website: www.AStrongMiddleClass.gov. Transparency is a key priority for the taskforce and any materials from meetings or reports produced will be made available to the public and on the website. The website will be updated with additional content as the Task Force gets underway.
President Obama has set the following goals for the task force:
Expanding education and lifelong training opportunities
Improving work and family balance
Restoring labor standards, including workplace safety
Helping to protect middle-class and working-family incomes
Protecting retirement security
Members of the White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families will include the Secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Commerce, 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.
The Middle Class Task Force's first official meeting will be on February 27, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The topic of the first meeting will be: "Green Jobs: A Pathway to a Strong Middle Class."