Jobs are still on the agenda but as the Obama Administration enters its second year, the White House is trying to bring help to middle class families. "The middle class has been under assault for a long time" President Obama told attendees at a Middle Class Task Force meeting on Monday. Mr. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who chairs the Middle Class Task Force, proposed initiatives that would help families whose budgets are challenged by child care, student loan payments, retirement planning and caring for elderly parents.
Families making less than $85,000 a year would be able to double their child and dependent care tax credit. Jared Bernstein, who heads the Vice President's economic team says with two-thirds of America's families headed by two working parents, full-time care for an infant can cost over $10,000 a year and "paying for two kids in childcare can be higher than your rent."
Another proposal would assist those who help care for elderly parents by providing more support for counseling, training, transportation and more hours for respite care so caregivers who work can do both. And there's help for those who need to repay college and post graduate tuition loans. Student loan payments would be capped at 10% of the borrowers income. Someone who borrowed $20,000 for college can cut their monthly payment in half and take up to twice the amount of time to repay it without incurring additional fees.
Bernstein told reporters Monday that middle class families have been squeezed for quite awhile and it's time they got some assistance. "We don't think it makes sense to wait until the unemployment rate comes down to a more acceptable rate to start tackling some of the family budget challenges that these families face." Bernstein insists the Obama Administration is not forgetting it’s promise to help those who need jobs. Bernstein says the President and Vice President do not believe that "focusing on these initiatives will take one iota of intensity or urgency away from our primary mission of jobs for the middle class."
The money for these proposals will be revealed February 1st when President Obama unveils his budget.