The President met with a diverse group, today, with representation from labor unions, not for profit organizations, and advocates for the business community.
The Presidential Memorandum signed today, created a task force dedicated to raising the living standards of America’s middle class. Vice President Biden is to chair the task force.
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 initial focus for the task force will be green jobs, which provide products and services that use renewable energy resources, reduce pollution, conserve energy and natural resources and reconstitute waste.
The Task Force’s first meeting is scheduled for February 27, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Members of the public can submit their suggestions at the Whitehouse website.
Partial REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND THE VICE PRESIDENT IN ANNOUNCEMENT OF LABOR EXECUTIVE ORDERS AND MIDDLE CLASS WORKING FAMILIES TASK FORCE
The White House, East Room
January 30, 2009
Today we learned that our economy shrank in the last three months of 2008 by 3.8 percent. That’s the worst contraction in close to three decades. This isn’t just an economic concept, this is a continuing disaster for America’s working families. As worrying as these numbers are, it’s what they mean for the American people that really matters and that’s so alarming: families making fewer purchases, businesses making fewer investments, employers sustaining fewer jobs.
The recession is deepening and the urgency of our economic crisis is growing. Yesterday we reached a new threshold: the highest number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits on record. Every day it seems there’s another round of layoffs, another round of jobs lost and families’ lives turned upside down. And we lost 2.6 million jobs last year, and another 2.8 million people who need and want full-time work had to settle for part-time employment. So 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 together and overcome our divisions to face this crisis. While our GDP may have grown smaller, it’s undiminished when it comes to our innovative spirit, our work ethic, our values and our resolve and resilience as Americans.
The American story is one of expanding opportunity and shared prosperity. It’s a story about the future; it’s never about the past. It’s a story in which we put the middle class families that are the heart of the nation at the heart of our efforts, because it drives everything else. Where I grew up, as the President referenced, not only in Scranton but in Wilmington, Delaware, like many, many of you, there are an awful lot of proud women and men who still reside in those neighborhoods. They don’t want the government to solve their problem. But at a minimum, they wanted the government to understand their problem – to understand their problem, be cognizant of the problem. They just wanted leaders who not only understood their problem, but leaders who would offer them policies that gave them nothing more than a chance, nothing more than a chance to make it.
(The executive orders were signed.)