Obama Administration Aims to Raise ‘Middle Class’ Living Standards

By Susan Jones | January 30, 2009 | 11:37 AM EST

Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama speak about their new Middle Class Task Force on Friday, Jan. 30, 2009, in the East Room of the White House. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) – Vice President Joe Biden says the goal of a new White House task force is to raise middle-class living standards.
At the request of President Barack Obama, Biden will chair the Middle Class Task force along with other Cabinet members and Obama advisers. President Obama announced the task force on Friday.
“Over the upcoming months, we will focus on answering those concerns that matter most to families,” says the task force Web site, called AStrongMiddleClass.gov. “What can we do to make retirement more secure? How can we make child and elder care more affordable? How do we improve workplace safety? How are we going to get the cost of college within reach? What can we do to help weary parents juggle work and family? What are the jobs of the future that we can begin to create?”
The task force’s first meeting will take place on Feb. 27 in Philadelphia. The focus will be “green jobs as a pathway to a strong middle class.”

According to the Obama administration, “Building a new power grid, manufacturing solar panels, weatherizing homes and office buildings, and renovating schools are just a few examples of ways to create new good quality jobs.”
The task force Web page encourages input from the public. “Please share your story with us and give us ideas for how to get the middle class going again,” it says.
The goals of the task force are plums for the labor unions that supported Obama’s presidential bid. Those goals include:
-- 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
At the same press conference where he announced the Middle Class Task Force, President Barack Obama signed three several executive orders intended to  "level the playing field" for labor unions in struggles with management.
"I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem. To me, it's part of the solution," Obama said, prompting applause. “You cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement."
Obama also said his administration wants to make sure low-income people "get a piece" of the American pie "if they're willing to work for it."
The three executives orders Obama signed on Friday will:

-- Require federal contractors to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change.
-- Reverse a Bush order requiring federal contractors to post notices telling workers they can limit their financial support of unions serving as their exclusive bargaining representatives.
-- Prevent federal contractors from being reimbursed for expenses intended to influence workers deciding whether to form a union and engage in collective bargaining.

The White House Web site does not define the term "middle class," other than to call it "the backbone of the country."

(The Associated Press contributed some of the information used in this report.)