Biden To Oversee Efforts Aimed At Middle Class

Vice President-elect Joe Biden will oversee a task force that will make recommendations on how to build the ranks of the middle class, that ambiguously defined segment of society in which most Americans identify themselves.

Biden said the task force will include other Cabinet members and it will present President-elect Barack Obama with a package of proposals designed to ensure the middle class is "no longer being left behind."

"We'll look at everything from college affordability to after-school programs, the things that affect people's daily lives," Biden said during an interview to be broadcast Sunday on ABC's "This Week".

Overseeing a task force has become tradition for vice presidents. Dick Cheney led a task force on energy. Al Gore had the task of reinventing government. George H.W. Bush, while serving as Ronald Reagan's vice president, oversaw a task force charged with reducing government regulation. While all of those efforts resulted in some accomplishments, it's also clear that the issues they confronted were so large and systemic that many could and did question the progress they made.

Biden said the measure of economic success in an Obama administration would be whether the middle class was growing. He said Obama planned to announce the formation of the task force later Sunday.

Even as he discussed the new job, Biden took care to define his role as vice president as going beyond a particular task. He said that when he discussed the job with Obama during the campaign, he told Obama he didn't "want to be the guy that goes out and has a specific assignment." Rather, he wanted to have a voice in every matter of importance.

"I said I want a commitment from you that in every important decision you'll make, every critical decision, economic and political as well as foreign policy, I'll get to be in the room," Biden said.

He said that Obama agreed and has adhered to that commitment.

"Every single solitary appointment he has made thus far, I have been in the room," said Biden, who was elected seven times to the Senate. "The recommendations I have made in most cases, coincidentally, have been the recommendations that he's picked, not because I made them, but because we think a lot alike."

Biden also covered topics from the auto bailout to his continued desire to close the Guantanamo prison holding terrorist suspects:

— The loan agreement for automakers will require sacrifices from all segments of the industry. While saying organized labor did not bring the carmakers to the brink of collapse, unions in particular are "going to have to make some additional sacrifices, and they know it and they understand it."

—The economic aid plan being readied by the Obama team will focus on creating a strong energy grid, will pay for thousands of new jobs focusing on making buildings and homes more energy efficient and will help health care providers invest in electronic record keeping for patients. "The end result, though, the money we're spending, we're going to get back three- and four fold."

—The military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should close, and the U.S. reputation abroad has suffered as a result of the Bush administration's policies on surveillance and detainees. "To quote from a previous national security report put out by the intelligence community, we have created, not dissuaded, more terrorists as a consequence of this policy," Biden said.

—It's up to the Justice Department to determine if charges should be filed against any member of the Bush administration for prisoner abuse that occurred at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo. "President-elect Obama and I are not sitting thinking about the past," he said.


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  • by Anonymous on Dec 26, 2008 at 04:24 AM
    The Unions are the reason why the USA can not compete in the market. The US auto makers manufacture "crap". I've worked with Union workers and all I hear "it's not my job" or "I'll need a change order" "I can't do . . ." there is no empowerment of I can do. They live in their boxes with no pride of work just a super high paycheck passed on to the consumer. And stay away from the doors when 5pm hits.
  • by Tad Location: Jamesville on Dec 26, 2008 at 03:28 AM
    Car salemen can't afford botox filled, plaster looking foreheads like that one.
  • by Cactus Location: Strabane on Dec 25, 2008 at 05:14 PM
    No he is not a car salesman, try used furniture.
  • by WOLFGANG Location: CHOCOWINITY,NC on Dec 23, 2008 at 05:47 PM
    Unions bring to poor into the middle class. $30.00 an hour auto workers? Obama " Change " He got most of the Unions in the USA to vote for him. Lost amidst the mutual finger-pointing over responsibility for the financial crisis is one incontrovertible fact. Under a President Obama, the Unionization of America's economy could SOAR, thanks to the combined effect of the legislation he would sign into law and those labor-friendly appointees he would name to oversee union elections and other matters. And while the blame for the possible demise of GM and other American automakers rests partly with reckless, uninspired management, a good measure is rightly laid at the feet of American unions who pushed a variety of contract provisions that have left the domestic industry Uncompetitive with foreign manufacturers
  • by Tad Location: Jamesville on Dec 23, 2008 at 07:40 AM
    Bo, I give Reagan credit for bringing down the USSR because his economic policies caused hyper-growth of our economy that fueled military spending that the Soviets simply could never keep up with. The Soviet economy was crushed under the weight of it's effort to keep up. Reagan stuck to the plan and won the cold war even over the objections of the left wing apologists. The hippies and dopers took root in the military under Kennedy and Johnson but you are correct in blaming Nixon and Ford for not drumming them out. Reagan wasn't a perfect president, just a great one. Beirut was a mistake, proof that you should never put troops in harms way without the equipment and authority to do whatever it takes to ensure thier own safety. You win wars by killing people and breaking things. If America can't stomach it, we should keep our troops out of conflicts. We will endure despite obama and his dorky sidekick as well. America is like an addict. We have to hit bottom before we get it.
  • by blacklisted Location: PGV on Dec 23, 2008 at 02:07 AM
    Hey WITN what's with the censorship - and blacklist crap I've posted several blogs and nothing - what's with it? It's obvious your biased towards the liberals. And you are capable of squelching any news worthy events but get off the censorship button if you want comments.
  • by Bo Location: Deep Run on Dec 22, 2008 at 08:50 PM
    Tad: Please don't under-estimate my intellect, and I will do same; deal sir? You state, as many conservatives do, that Reagan brought down the USSR. I counter that 1. the doomed USSR system and 2. all loyal U.S. taxpaying citizens and military serving patriots brought USSR down. To credit one man is a discredit to us all and smells of hero worship unbefitting of a god-fearing great nation. I served in the military in the 70's and 80's too; kindly remember that the "hippies" and "dopers" that you speak prospered under Nixon and Ford. Remember Reagan and Beirut, by the way? I keenly do. Now to present day chatter, your party, which you conveniently disown under chicken-hawk Bush/Cheney, has done irreparable harm, both fiscally and in foreign policy. I ain't the Democrat lovin' myopic pollyanna that you may assume. But, I do know incompetence and when an administration runs US afoul, I'll back the alternative I believe better. The U.S. will endure, despite Bush. Cheers to a better economy.
  • by money Location: greenville on Dec 22, 2008 at 01:02 PM
    Make sure I get my check too. Thanks.
  • by Cat Location: Gboro on Dec 22, 2008 at 01:00 PM
    Alpha: Yeah wasn't that funny! LOL!
  • by Tad Location: Jamesville on Dec 22, 2008 at 12:54 PM
    Look a little deeper than one simple number Bo. Alot of that bought the disappearance of the Berlin Wall and ended the cold war. Reagan did what Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter couldn't do, brought the Soviets to thier knees. Also, many years of neglect concerning the US military were corrected. If that nitwit Jimmy Carter hadn't gutted the military, Reagan wouldn't have had to commit so many resources to rebuilding it. Dumocrats controlled congress for many of those years which will always add to the deficit. Most importantly Bo, stay with me now, measure the deficit as a percentage of the GNP and your TRIPLED is nonsense. I'll use small numbers to make easy for you to grasp. I would rather have a GNP of 20 with a deficit of 3 than a GNP of 4 and a deficit of 1. I know the military was in bad shape under Carter, I was there. I beamed over new equipment and parts that had been out of stock for years. Reagan put dopers and hippies out, soldiers in. Biden is a dork!!!
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