Vice President-elect Biden hones in on the middle class

Two weeks ago Vice President-elect Joe Biden showed his commitment to the middle class and restoring the health of our economy by selecting Jared Bernstein for a newly-created post, Chief Economist and Economic Policy Advisor to the Vice President. Yesterday, the Obama Transition team announced that the Vice President-elect would also chair the President-elect’s “White House Task Force on Working Families.” The Task Force will be comprised of cabinet members like Hilda Solis, Tom Daschle, Bill Richardson and Arne Duncan as well as key advisors Melody Barnes, Peter Orszag, Larry Summers, and Christina Romer. Through regular meetings and outreach with representatives of labor, business, and the advocacy communities, it will work towards raising the living standards of middle-class families and the following goals:

  • 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

The Vice President-elect discussed the Task Force on ABC’s “This Week” yesterday:

BIDEN: It is a specific responsibility in terms of—it is a discrete job that is going to last only for a certain period of time. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: What will it do? 

BIDEN: What it’s going to do, it’s going to include other Cabinet members, including Labor, HHS, OMB, Education, etc, and my focus is going to be, I’m going to chair this group and it is designed to do the one thing we use as a yardstick of economic success of our administration, is the middle class growing? Is the middle class getting better? Is the middle class no longer being left behind?  And we’ll look at everything from college affordability to after school programs. The things that affect people’s daily lives. I will be the guy honchoing that policy. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Will you then have line authority? If you determine that a policy… 

BIDEN: No. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: … isn’t serving the middle class you’ll have the authority to change it? 

BIDEN: No, what I have the authority to do is to try to get a consensus among those people I just mentioned. If in fact there is no consensus, go to the president of the United States and say, Mr. President, I think we should be doing this, Cabinet member so and so thinks that, you’re going to have to resolve what it is we think we should do.  But we’re going to present him with a package as to what are the main elements of restoring the middle class.

In a separate interview with Larry King airing on CNN tonight, the Vice President-elect was asked about the prospects for America’s economic outlook turning around:

King: In your book, you say a question you got from people a lot during the campaign was, “Are we going to be OK?” So I’ll ask it of you.

Biden: Yes, we are. We’re going to be OK, not because of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. We’re going to be OK because of the American people. They have more grit, determination and courage than you can imagine.

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