Obama Administration Promotes ‘Middle Class’ Initiatives, Won’t Provide Cost of Proposals

By Fred Lucas | January 25, 2010 | 5:22 PM EST

President Barack Obama announces economic initiatives for struggling middle class families, Monday, Jan. 25, 2010, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across from the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) – New tax credits and help with student loans are among the initiatives President Barack Obama outlined Monday, and he's expected to further discuss those proposals in his State of the Union address on Wednesday.

The proposals, if enacted, would increase the reach of government, but they are far more modest than the health care overhaul bill that has dominated the president’s domestic agenda for most of his first year in office.

But the cost is still a mystery because Jared Bernstein, chief economic advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, declined to tell reporters the cost of the initiatives until after Feb. 1, when the administration submits its budget proposal.  

Obama called for nearly doubling the child tax credit for middle class for those making less than $85,000 ayear, from 20 percent to 35 percent. Further, the administration will add another $1.6 billion in child care spending. The president also wants to expand tax credits to match retirement savings and expand help for families caring for elderly relatives.

Obama, standing with Biden, also called for limiting a student’s federal loan payment to 10 percent of his or her income.

Employers would be required to give all employees the option of enrolling in a direct deposit Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

“We are fighting every single day to put Americans back to work, create good jobs, and strengthen our economy for the long-term,” Obama said.

Biden was named chairman of the White House Middle Class Task Force early last year. The task force has held meetings in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado, Ohio, Virginia and New York.

“Every day, middle class families go to work and help make this country great,” Biden said. “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.”

While Obama is touting more modest proposals, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday that Obama would not downplay the health care overhaul plan in the State of the Union.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the announcements were nothing more than a photo op that is doing nothing to bring back jobs.

“Americans are asking ‘where are the jobs?’ but none of the proposals outlined by the White House today would, in fact, create jobs,” Boehner said in a statement. “And they do nothing to protect Americans from the President’s job-killing agenda, including the government takeover of health care, the ‘cap and trade’ national energy tax, the reckless spending and new debt, and more taxes and regulations that make it harder for middle-class families and small businesses to save, invest, and hire.”