How the Government Intends to Help the Middle Class
You might want to listen to Obama's State of the Union address on Wednesday if you, like the majority of the country, are a member of the middle class and having a hard time making ends meet. On Monday, President Obama announced that he will be introducing a number of plans and policies that will help "rebuild the middle class."
In remarks made by Vice President Joe Biden to an Obama administration tax force charged with helping the middle class, Biden said, "...as we move from recession to recovery, our focus is the middle class. Today, living a quality middle class life starts, as it always has, with a good-paying job. And by job, we're not talking about merely a paycheck; it's more than a paycheck. And we're talking about dignity, we're talking about security. We're talking about knowing your pension is safe, your health insurance is reliable, your elderly parents and your children are going to be cared for, your neighborhood is safe, there's decent schools, and that your kids are going to be able to grow up and if they desire and you desire, be able to attend college. It's the old-fashioned notion of American Dream. I mean, it sounds corny, but that's literally what it is."
What they'll be asking of congress:
--Expansion of the child tax credit, nearly doubling the credit for middle class families with incomes up to $85,000 and increase the credit for nearly every family making under $115,000.
--Increase in funding for child care, intended to help "working parents who are struggling to lift their families into the middle class."
--Increased elder care support, including counseling, training, help with transportation, and temporary respite care when caregivers need to go to work or take a break.
--Strengthening the income-based repayment program for student loans, ensuring that Federal Student Loan payments for overburdened borrowers are never more than 10 percent of their income.
--Strengthening retirement security by enabling employers who do not currently offer retirement plans to enroll their employees in direct deposit IRAs.
--Simplifying and expanding the saver's credit, which helps working families save for retirement by providing a 50 percent match on the first $1,000 of retirement savings.
Biden explained that last one by saying, "If you put a thousand bucks into a retirement account, your government is going to add even more -- another $500. It's an incentive, but long term it saves the government a lot more money than the 500 hundred bucks put in if in fact we find we have a generation that's able to care for themselves and not have to look to the government to provide some basic needs."
"Taken together," Biden explained, "these and other middle class proposals we believe will go a long way toward easing the strain on working families, allowing them to save more today to get further ahead tomorrow."
Obama's State of the Union speech is also expected to address the nation's worsening unemployment situation. "More than 7 million (jobs) have been lost as a consequence of this recession –- an epidemic that demands our relentless and sustained response," Obama said Monday. "Now, last month the House passed a new jobs bill. The Senate, as we speak, is hard at work developing its own job creation package. Creating good, sustainable jobs is the single most important thing we can do to rebuild the middle class -– and I won't rest until we're doing just that."
Hopefully President Obama will be able to get a good night's sleep in the not too distant future.
Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want. Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, Oprah.com and many other media outlets. Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on LisaJohnsonMandell.com.