IN AANKONDIGING VAN UITVOERENDE BESTELLINGS EN MIDDELKLAS WERKGESINS TAKVRAG - Geskiedenis

IN AANKONDIGING VAN UITVOERENDE BESTELLINGS EN MIDDELKLAS WERKGESINS TAKVRAG - Geskiedenis

OPMERKINGS DEUR DIE PRESIDENT EN DIE VICE PRESIDENT

IN AANKONDIGING VAN UITVOERENDE BESTELLINGS EN MIDDELKLAS WERKENDE FAMILIES TAKKRAG

Oos kamer

11:58 A. M. EST

DIE PRESIDENT: Dankie dat u vandag by ons aangesluit het. Dit is 'n voorreg om deel te wees van hierdie diverse groep wat vakbonde verteenwoordig en nie vir winsgewende organisasies nie, advokate vir ons sakegemeenskap. En ek is verheug om hier te wees saam met ons uitstekende vise -president, Joe Biden. (Applous.) Ek sien 'n paar van my kollegas - ek het 'n paar senatore hier, ons het 'n goewerneur, ten minste een van hulle sien ek hier, kongreslede en baie goeie vriende en kabinetslede. Dit is dus 'n uitstekende byeenkoms.

Ons het vandag geleer dat ons ekonomie in die laaste drie maande van 2008 met 3,8 persent gekrimp het. Dit is die ergste inkrimping in byna drie dekades. Dit is nie net 'n ekonomiese konsep nie, dit is 'n voortdurende ramp vir die werkende gesinne in Amerika. Hoe kommerwekkend hierdie getalle ook is, dit is wat dit vir die Amerikaanse bevolking beteken, wat regtig saak maak, en dit is so kommerwekkend: gesinne wat minder aankope doen, ondernemings wat minder belê, werkgewers wat minder werk onderhou.

Die resessie verdiep en die dringendheid van ons ekonomiese krisis neem toe. Gister het ons 'n nuwe drempel bereik: die hoogste aantal Amerikaners wat werkloosheidsvoordele op rekord ontvang het. Elke dag lyk dit asof daar nog 'n ronde ontslag is, nog 'n ronde werksgeleenthede verlore gaan en gesinne se lewens omgekeer word. En ons het verlede jaar 2,6 miljoen werksgeleenthede verloor, en nog 2,8 miljoen mense wat voltydse werk nodig het en wil hê, moes met deeltydse werk tevrede wees. Dit is dus 'n moeilike oomblik.

Maar ek glo dat as ons vrymoedig en vinnig optree, dit 'n Amerikaanse oomblik kan wees, wanneer ons saam ons verskille deurwerk en ons verdeeldheid oorkom om hierdie krisis die hoof te bied. Alhoewel ons BBP kleiner geword het, is dit onverminderd wat ons vernuwende gees, ons werksetiek, ons waardes en ons vasberadenheid en veerkragtigheid as Amerikaners betref.

Ek reis twee jaar lank deur hierdie land. Ek het duisende mense ontmoet-hardwerkende middelklas-Amerikaners wat hul hoop en swaarkry met my gedeel het. Dit is die mans en die vroue wat die ruggraat van ons ekonomie vorm. Die produktiefste werkers ter wêreld. Hulle doen hul werk. Hulle bou die produkte en lewer die dienste wat Amerika se welvaart dryf.

En dit is die mense wat my genader het op die veldtog, in vakbondlokale, in kerkkelders en koffiewinkels en VFW -sale en winkelvloere, en hulle het my vertel van werksgeleenthede wat verlore gegaan het en huise uitgesluit is, ure gesny en voordele ingekort is - die lewenskoste wat stadig wegglip en wegbreek in die hoop om 'n kollege of 'n nuwe huis of pensioen te kry. Dit is soos die American Dream in reverse. Dit is die gesinne wat nie self die skuld gekry het nie, omdat die ekonomie agteruitgegaan het.

Hulle het aksie nodig - nou. Hulle het ons nodig om die Amerikaanse herstel- en herbeleggingsplan te slaag - 'n plan wat meer as 3 miljoen werkgeleenthede in die komende jare sal red of skep en beleggings sal maak wat ons ekonomie nog jare sal dien. Ons is van plan om ons vermoë om hernubare energie op te wek, te verdubbel, terwyl ons ons pogings om energie meer doeltreffend te gebruik verdubbel. Ons sal verkrummelde paaie herbou en verouderde vervoerstelsels herbou en 10 000 skole vir ons kinders opknap, en ons bring gesondheidsorg in die 21ste eeu deur mediese rekords te reken, te tel - talle lewens en miljarde dollars te red.

Ek is bly dat die Huis opgetree het met die dringendheid wat nodig was om hierdie plan te slaag. Ek hoop dat ons dit verder in die senaat kan versterk. Wat ons nie kan doen nie, is om ons voete te sleep of langer te vertraag. Die Amerikaanse volk verwag dat ons moet optree, en dit is presies wat ek van plan is om as president van die Verenigde State te doen.

Maar om my plan te slaag, is nie die einde nie, dit is net die begin van wat ons moet doen. Ons weet dat ons werk moet skep, maar nie sommer enige werk nie. Ons moet werk skep wat gesinne onderhou en drome onderhou; werksgeleenthede in nuwe en groeiende bedrywe; werk wat nie soos 'n doodloopstraat voel nie, maar 'n pad vorentoe en 'n pad op; werk wat 'n lewendige en groeiende middelklas sal bevorder, omdat die sterkte van ons ekonomie direk gemeet kan word aan die sterkte van ons middelklas. En daarom het ek die Task Force oor werkende gesinne in die middelklas gestig, en ek het my vise -president, Joe Biden, gevra om dit te lei.

Daar is niemand wat dieselfde kombinasie van persoonlike ervaring en inhoudelike kundigheid dra nie. Joe het 'n lang pad gekom en baie bereik, maar hy het nooit sy wortels vergeet as 'n werkersklas uit Scranton, Pennsylvania. Hy het die Amerikaanse droom geleef en geleef en gewerk om die droom vir ander 'n werklikheid te maak.

Hierdie taakspan sal my ekonomiese adviseurs en lede van my kabinet byeenbring om te fokus op beleid wat die middelklas werklik sal bevoordeel, beleid om werk te skep wat goed betaal en 'n kans bied om te spaar, om werk te skep in groeiende velde en om werkers op te lei vul dit in om te verseker dat die werkplekke veilig en regverdig is, sowel as buigsaam vir werknemers wat met die eise van werk en gesin werk.

En ek dink ek moet daarop let dat as ek praat oor die middelklas, ek praat van mense wat tans in die middelklas is, maar ook oor mense wat daarna streef om in die middelklas te wees. Ons vergeet nie die armes nie. Hulle gaan voor en in die middel wees, want ook hulle deel ons Amerikaanse droom. En ons gaan seker maak dat hulle 'n stukkie van die Amerikaanse droom kan kry as hulle daarvoor wil werk.

Ek glo ook dat ons baie van die beleide ten opsigte van georganiseerde arbeid wat ons die afgelope agt jaar gesien het, moet omkeer, beleid waarmee ek nie heeltemal saamgestem het nie. Ek beskou die arbeidersbeweging nie as deel van die probleem nie, vir my is dit deel van die oplossing. (Applous.) Ons moet die speelveld gelykstel vir werkers en vakbonde wat hul belange verteenwoordig, want ons weet dat u nie 'n sterk middelklas kan hê sonder 'n sterk arbeidersbeweging nie. Ons weet dat sterk, lewendige, groeiende vakbonde langs mekaar kan bestaan ​​met sterk, lewendige en groeiende ondernemings. Dit is nie 'n voorstel tussen die belange van werkers en die belange van aandeelhouers nie. Dit is die ou argument. Die nuwe argument is dat die Amerikaanse ekonomie nie 'n nul-som spel is nie en nog nooit was nie. As werkers voorspoedig is, koop hulle produkte wat besighede laat floreer. Ons kan mededingend en maer en gemeen wees en steeds 'n situasie skep waar werkers in hierdie land floreer.

Ek gaan dus drie uitvoerende bevele onderteken om te verseker dat federale kontrakte belastingbetalers doeltreffend en effektief bedien. Een van hierdie bevele gaan voorkom dat belastingbetalersgeld federale kontrakteurs wat geld bestee, probeer vergoed om die stigting van vakbonde te beïnvloed. Ons sal ook vereis dat federale kontrakteurs hul werknemers in kennis stel van hul regte ingevolge die National Labor Relations Act. Federale arbeidswette moedig kollektiewe bedinging aan, en werknemers moet hul regte ken om ontwrigting van federale kontrakte te voorkom.

En ek gee 'n bevel uit sodat gekwalifiseerde werknemers hul werk kan behou, selfs as 'n kontrak van eienaar verander. Ons moet die regering nie ontneem van hierdie werkers wat soveel ervaring het om die regering te laat werk nie.

Ons moet ons energie gefokus hou en ons oë gevestig op die werklike maatstaf van ons voorspoed - die sukses van mense wat ek en Joe in hierdie land ontmoet het wat elke dag hard werk. Ek is gretig om hierdie taakspan in aksie te sien. Ek is gretig om die bevindings daarvan met Joe Biden te bespreek. En om saam met die mense in hierdie kamer te werk, is ek van plan om hierdie ekonomie op dreef te kry, werk te skep vir die toekoms en om seker te maak dat die Amerikaanse volk hul drome kan bereik, nie net vir hulself nie, maar ook vir hul kinders.

Laat ek dus ons voorsitter van ons middelklas -taakspan, my vise -president en die trots van Delaware - (gelag) - Joe Biden, voorstel. (Applous.)

DIE VICE PRESIDENT: Dankie, meneer die president. Dankie, meneer die president, vir die vrygewige inleiding. Dit is 'n plesier om julle almal vandag hier te sien, terwyl ons hierdie taakspan vir ons - in die middelklas - aankondig.

Mense, ek wil dankie sê aan die uitstaande individue, van wie baie in hierdie kamer is: lede van die kongres, arbeidslede, sakelui, belangegroepe wat hier nie-winsgewende organisasies verteenwoordig. Ek wil julle almal bedank dat julle vandag hier was. Dit is goed om soveel van my vriende ook te sien - ons vriende van georganiseerde arbeid. Welkom terug in die Withuis. (Gelag en toejuiging.)

U weet, een van die dinge wat ons almal in hierdie kamer weet, is die leiers, meneer die president, van georganiseerde arbeid wat hul lewens toegewy het aan die saak waaroor hierdie taakspan handel - om die lewens van werkende mense beter te maak. Ek sou aanvoer dat daar geen middelklas sou wees as daar nie 'n georganiseerde arbeidersbeweging was wat 150 jaar gelede begin het nie.

En ek is trots daarop dat hierdie administrasie met u leiding, meneer die president, in hierdie poging verbonde sal wees. En ek wil u bedank dat u hierdie taakspan byeengeroep en bemagtig het. mense wat na president Teddy Roosevelt verwys het as die "doeners van dade", die manne en vroue wat ons kinders leer, wat ons woonbuurte beskerm, wat ons huise bou, ons hospitale beman, werk aan al die mense.

Hieroor, die groot Amerikaanse middelklas, het u eenvoudig gesê: ons is weer aan u kant. En dit is net so basies, vanuit my perspektief.

En so het ons al te veel jare 'n Withuis wat nie daarin geslaag het om die Amerikaanse middelklas voor en in die middel van ons ekonomiese beleid te plaas nie. En selfs toe ons ekonomie - selfs toe ons ekonomie gegroei het - was daar 'n - en dit was 'n baie vaste grond waarop ons kon bou - het die middelklas afgeneem. Produktiwiteit het tussen 2000 en 2007 met byna 20 persent gestyg, maar die inkomste vir werkende gesinne het met $ 2 000 per jaar gedaal. En as ons ekonomie sukkel, is die pyn aansienlik erger. Triljoene dollars aan huisbelang, pensioenbesparing, universiteitsbesparing is weg. En elke dag verloor meer en meer Amerikaners hul werk. En vir baie mense het die werk van 'n leeftyd letterlik verdwyn. Dit is wreed, maar dit is ook - dit dreig om die gees van die land te benadeel.

Na u mening, meneer die president, het u dit die beste gesê tydens u inhuldigingstoespraak. U het gesê - en ek haal aan - ''n Nasie kan nie lank voorspoedig wees as dit slegs die welvarendes bevoordeel nie.' Eenvoudig is 'n sterk middelklas na ons mening gelyk aan 'n sterk Amerika.

Dit is duidelik dat ons dringendste taak is om die ekonomie te stabiliseer, wat die president goed op dreef is om die boustene daar te stel en ons op die pad van herstel te bring. Maar bo en behalwe hierdie dringende taak, het ons ook 'n belangrike taak op lang termyn. Ons moet seker maak dat die voordele van 'n versterkende ekonomie, waarna ons uitsien, die mense bereik wat verantwoordelik is vir die opwekking van daardie krag. Daarom het president Obama my gevra om hierdie taakgroep te lei, om die kabinetslede byeen te bring wat die grootste impak op die welstand van die middelklas in ons land het, asook om die mening en idees van ander in die samelewing te soek hoe ons hierdie idees die beste kan bereik.

Ons kyk na alles, van toegang tot die kollege by die Departement van Onderwys, tot sake -ontwikkeling by die Departement van Handel, tot kindersorg en bejaardesorg by Health and Human - verskoon my, Health and Human Services, tot die herstel van die balans in die werkplek by die Departement van Arbeid, en die herstel van die plek van arbeid by die Departement van Arbeid.

En dus weerspieël hierdie taakspan 'n kritiese insig van president Obama dat ons die kennis, die talent en die vaardigheid van die mense in die hele regering moet bymekaarbring om hierdie probleme die beste aan te pak, en soos ek gesê het, en nooi die private sektor om die beste beskikbare idees aan te bied om ons te help om dit te doen.

Met hierdie taakspan het ons 'n enkele, hoogs sigbare groep met een enkele doel: om die lewenstandaard van die mense wat die ruggraat van hierdie land is - die middelklas - te verhoog. Want as hulle eintlik hul standaard verhoog, vaar die armes beter. By die manier doen die rykes ook beter. Almal doen beter.

Dus, met die ondertekening van die uitvoerende bevele van die president, wat hy gaan onderteken, begin ons met die werk van die taakspan. En ek wil aankondig dat ons uitvoerende direkteur dr. Jared Bernstein sal wees, 'n man wat 'n groot deel van sy professionele loopbaan en sy skryfwerk en studie bestee het aan die ekonomiese kwessies wat die grootste invloed op die lewens van middelklasgesinne het.

Ons maak ook vandag 'n webwerf bekend. Die webwerf sal astrongmiddleclass.gov wees. Hierdie webwerf sal nie net 'n bron van inligting wees nie. Hopelik sal dit ook 'n plek vir gesprekke wees. Ons nooi Amerikaners uit om met ons in die idees te kommunikeer

wat hulle het. Dit sal 'n plek wees waar mense nie net kan uitvind wat ons doen nie, maar ook hul idees en ervarings met ons kan deel. Ons luister ook na mense se verhale terwyl ons regoor die land en tydens die taak van hierdie taakspan vergaderings hou terwyl ons 'n finale verslag voorberei.

En ons eerste taakmagvergadering word gehou op 27 Februarie in Philadelphia. Die fokus van die vergadering is groen werksgeleenthede-werk wat goed betaal, nie uitgekontrakteer kan word nie en ons sal help om 'n skoner, meer selfvoorsienende energietoekoms te bereik. Elke maand wat daarop volg, fokus ons op 'n ander saak in 'n ander deel van die land: hoe u u aftrede veiliger kan maak; kinder- en bejaardesorg, hoe om dit bekostigbaar te maak; verbetering van veiligheid op die werkplek; om die koste van die kollege binne bereik van die oorgrote meerderheid van die Amerikaanse mense te kry; moeg ouers help om met familie en werk te jongleren; en skep werk vir die toekoms.

Uiteindelik is dit ons verantwoordelikheid om aan die president en aan die nasie duidelike en spesifieke stappe te gee wat ons moet neem om hierdie en ander bekommernisse die hoof te bied. Ek kan byvoeg dat hierdie taakspan, wat uit die kantoor van die vise -president kom, 'n bietjie uniek is, volledig deursigtig - heeltemal deursigtig. (Gelag.) Ons gaan raadpleeg. Ons gaan konsulteer-(applous.) Ons gaan openlik-openlik en publiek-sonder kantgroepe konsulteer, wat ons kan help om die mees ingrypende, verbeeldingryke oplossings te ontwikkel om ons te help om hierdie probleme op te los en die uitkoms te skep wat ons soek ek.

En ons sal al die materiaal van ons vergaderings en enige verslag wat ons opstel op die webwerf plaas. Niks hiervan sal agter geslote deure gebeur nie. Ons wil die Amerikaanse volk verloof hê. Ons wil hê dat hulle in die begin betrokke moet wees.

Daar is 'n paar mense wat die vooruitsigte van die land sê, wat 'n bietjie afneem van die toekomstige ekonomiese voorspoed, wat sê dat ons 'n tydperk bereik het waarin slegs 'n paar mense kan floreer en almal moet agter raak. Ons aanvaar nie die voorstel nie. Daar was nog nooit, en dit was nog nooit 'n deel van die Amerikaanse verhaal nie, in geen deel van ons geskiedenis nie. En ek en die president is vasbeslote dat dit vandag geen deel sal wees van Amerika se verhaal nie.

Die Amerikaanse verhaal is 'n uitbreiding van geleenthede en gedeelde welvaart. Dit is 'n verhaal oor die toekoms; dit gaan nooit oor die verlede nie. Dit is 'n verhaal waarin ons die middelklasgesinne, wat die hart van die nasie is, sentraal stel in ons pogings, omdat dit alles anders dryf. Waar ek grootgeword het, soos die president verwys het, is daar nie net in Scranton nie, maar ook in Wilmington, Delaware, soos baie, baie van julle, trotse vroue en mans wat nog steeds in die woonbuurte woon. Hulle wil nie hê die regering moet hul probleem oplos nie. Maar ten minste wou hulle hê dat die regering hul probleem moet begryp - om hul probleem te verstaan, bewus te wees van die probleem. Hulle wou net leiers hê wat nie net hul probleem verstaan ​​nie, maar leiers wat beleid aan hulle sou bied wat hulle niks meer as 'n kans gegee het nie, niks meer as 'n kans om dit te maak nie.

En ek oordryf nie as ek dit sê nie. Ek is nie - julle weet almal dat dit net 'n kans is. Hulle wou leiers soos jy hê, mnr. Hulle wou leiers hê soos diegene wat hier in hierdie kamer vergader. En hulle wil en wil vandag 'n Withuis wat gereed is om te sê dat die maatstaf van ons sukses sal wees of die middelklas weer deel het van die ekonomiese sukses en voorspoed van die land.

Daarom, ek dank u dat u my hierdie verantwoordelikheid gegee het. Ek sien uit daarna om saam met die mense in hierdie kamer en vele ander te werk. En ek sien ook uit daarna, meneer die president, dat u hierdie uitvoerende bevele as die eerste orde van sake onderteken. (Applous.)

(Die uitvoerende bevele is onderteken.)

DIE PRESIDENT: Ek word goed hiermee. (Gelag en toejuiging.)

EINDE 11:17 A. EST


Obama teken uitvoerende bevele vir arbeid

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WASHINGTON (MarketWatch)-President Barack Obama het Vrydag drie vakbondvriendelike uitvoerende bevele onderteken en gesê dat die VSA 'die speelveld moet vergelyk vir werkers en vakbonde wat hul belange verteenwoordig'.

By 'n seremonie in die Withuis het Obama bevele onderteken wat volgens hom ontwerp is om te verseker dat federale kontrakte Amerikaanse belastingbetalers effektief dien.

Die een sal verhoed dat belastingbetalersgeld federale kontrakteurs wat geld bestee, probeer vergoed om werkers wat besluit om 'n vakbond te stig, te beïnvloed.

'N Tweede bevel vereis dat federale kontrakteurs hul werknemers in kennis stel van hul regte ingevolge die National Labor Relations Act, wat kollektiewe bedinging aanmoedig. Die bevel keer 'n bevel van oud -president George W. Bush om.

'N Derde vereis dat federale kontrakteurs werk aan gekwalifiseerde werknemers moet aanbied wanneer kontrakte verander.

'Ek beskou die arbeidersbeweging nie as 'n deel van die probleem nie,' het Obama gesê. "Vir my is dit deel van die oplossing."

Vakbonde het die stappe Vrydag toegejuig.

"Hierdie bevele toon saam dat die administrasie die federale regering se verantwoordelikheid erken, as die grootste koper van goedere en dienste in die land, om modelstandaarde vir werknemers in die private sektor sowel as vir die direkte federale arbeidsmag op te stel," sê Anna Burger, voorsitter van die sewe vakbond Change to Win arbeidsfederasie, in 'n verklaring.

Obama kondig ook die oprigting van 'n nuwe taakgroep van die Withuis aan oor probleme waarmee werkende gesinne in die middelklas te kampe het, onder voorsitterskap van Joe Biden.

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'Middelklas -taakspan' aangekondig

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Teenoor nuwe bewyse van 'n donkerder ekonomiese klimaat, het president Barack Obama Vrydag 'n nuwe middelklas-taakspan gestig om die status van Amerikaners met 'n gemiddelde inkomste te beoordeel en nuwe maniere aan te beveel om die ekonomie te versterk.

Die president onderteken ook verskeie uitvoerende bevele om georganiseerde arbeid, 'n belangrike demokratiese kiesafdeling, te ondersteun.

Obama het 'n gehoor van sake- en vakbondleiers in die Withuis toegespreek en gesê dit is tyd dat die regering 'vrymoedig en vinnig' optree om 'n sukkelende middelklas by te staan.

'Die Amerikaanse volk verwag dat ons moet optree, en dit is presies wat ek van plan is om te doen,' het hy gesê.

Die Amerikaanse ekonomie het die grootste verlangsaming in 26 jaar in die laaste drie maande van 2008 beleef, volgens die eerste lesing van die regering oor die vierde kwartaal, wat Vrydag bekend gemaak is.

Die bruto binnelandse produk, die breedste maatstaf van die land se ekonomiese aktiwiteit, het in die kwartaal jaarliks ​​met 3,8 persent gedaal, aangepas vir inflasie.

Die jongste getalle is ''n voortdurende ramp vir die werkende gesinne in Amerika', het Obama gesê. "Die resessie verdiep. En die ekonomiese krisis neem toe."

Die president se nuwe taakgroep van middelklaswerkende gesinne, onder leiding van vise -president Joe Biden, sal bestaan ​​uit 'n paneel raadgewers en vier kabinetslede. Die taakspan sal probeer om die status van die middelklas te bepaal - spesifiek of dit groei of krimp en hoe goed dit gaan.

Uiteindelik sal 'n reeks aanbevelings uitgereik word oor hoe om die ekonomiese veiligheid van Amerikaners met 'n gemiddelde inkomste die beste te versterk.

'' 'N Sterk middelklas is gelyk aan 'n sterk Amerika,' het Biden gesê. Dit is van kritieke belang om 'die lewenstandaard van die mense wat die ruggraat van hierdie land is, te verhoog'.

Die eerste vergadering van die taakspan word op 27 Februarie in Philadelphia gehou. Die vergadering fokus op 'groen werksgeleenthede', werksgeleenthede wat verband hou met hernubare energie en omgewingsvriendelike ontwikkeling.

By die hand van georganiseerde arbeid - 'n kritieke komponent van sy veldtogkoalisie - het Obama ook 'n uitvoerende bevel omgekeer wat vakbonde toelaat om tekens te plaas wat werknemers waarsku dat hulle vakbonde mag verlaat.

Vakbonde is “nie deel van die probleem nie”, het Obama gesê. Hulle is 'deel van die oplossing'.

Kritici van die vorige bevel het gesê dat terwyl vakbondwinkels toegelaat word om werkers te laat weet dat hulle die vakbond kan ontbind, hoef nie-vakbonde inligting te plaas wat werknemers vertel dat hulle kan vakbonde.

Die president het ook drie bykomende bevele uitgereik.

Die eerste vereis dat diensaannemers by federale geboue werk aan gekwalifiseerde huidige werknemers moet bied wanneer kontrakte verander. 'N Tweede vereis dat federale verkopers met meer as $ 100,000 in kontrakte werkers se regte onder die National Labor Relations Act moet plaas.

'N Derde bevel verhoed dat federale kontrakteurs vergoed word vir uitgawes wat bedoel was om werkers se besluite om vakbonde te stig of om kollektiewe bedingings te begin, te beïnvloed.


Obama en Biden kondig die taakgroep van die middelklas aan

DIE PRESIDENT: Dankie dat u vandag by ons aangesluit het. Dit is 'n voorreg om deel te wees van hierdie diverse groep wat vakbonde verteenwoordig en nie vir winsgewende organisasies nie, advokate vir ons sakegemeenskap. En ek is verheug om hier te wees saam met ons uitstekende vise -president, Joe Biden. (Applous.) Ek sien 'n paar van my kollegas - ek het 'n paar senatore hier, ons het 'n goewerneur, ten minste een van hulle sien ek hier, kongreslede en baie goeie vriende en kabinetslede. Dit is dus 'n uitstekende byeenkoms.

Ons het vandag geleer dat ons ekonomie in die laaste drie maande van 2008 met 3,8 persent gekrimp het. Dit is die ergste inkrimping in byna drie dekades. Dit is nie net 'n ekonomiese konsep nie, dit is 'n voortdurende ramp vir die werkende gesinne in Amerika. Hoe kommerwekkend hierdie getalle ook is, dit is wat dit vir die Amerikaanse bevolking beteken, wat regtig belangrik is; dit is so kommerwekkend: gesinne wat minder aankope doen, ondernemings wat minder belê, werkgewers wat minder werk onderhou.

Die resessie verdiep en die dringendheid van ons ekonomiese krisis neem toe. Gister het ons 'n nuwe drumpel bereik: die hoogste aantal Amerikaners wat werkloosheidsvoordele op rekord ontvang het. Elke dag lyk dit asof daar nog 'n ronde ontslag is, nog 'n ronde werksgeleenthede verlore gaan en gesinne se lewens omgekeer word. En ons het verlede jaar 2,6 miljoen werksgeleenthede verloor, en nog 2,8 miljoen mense wat voltydse werk nodig het en wil hê, moes met deeltydse werk tevrede wees. Dit is dus 'n moeilike oomblik.

Maar ek glo dat as ons vrymoedig en vinnig optree, dit 'n Amerikaanse oomblik kan wees, wanneer ons saam ons verskille deurwerk en ons verdeeldheid oorkom om hierdie krisis die hoof te bied. Alhoewel ons BBP kleiner geword het, is dit onverminderd wat ons vernuwende gees, ons werksetiek, ons waardes en ons vasberadenheid en veerkragtigheid as Amerikaners betref.

Ek reis twee jaar lank deur hierdie land. Ek het duisende mense ontmoet-hardwerkende middelklas-Amerikaners wat hul hoop en swaarkry met my gedeel het. Dit is die mans en die vroue wat die ruggraat van ons ekonomie vorm. Die produktiefste werkers ter wêreld. Hulle doen hul werk. Hulle bou die produkte en lewer die dienste wat Amerika se welvaart dryf.

En dit is die mense wat my genader het op die veldtog, in vakbondlokale, in kerkkelders en koffiewinkels en VFW -sale en winkelvloere, en hulle het my vertel van werksgeleenthede wat verlore gegaan het en huise uitgesluit is, ure gesny en voordele ingekort is - die lewenskoste wat stadig wegglip en wegbreek in die hoop om 'n kollege of 'n nuwe huis of pensioen te kry. Dit is soos die American Dream in reverse. Dit is die gesinne wat nie die skuld gekry het nie, omdat die ekonomie agteruitgegaan het.

Hulle het aksie nodig - nou. Hulle het ons nodig om die Amerikaanse herstel- en herbeleggingsplan te slaag - 'n plan wat meer as 3 miljoen werkgeleenthede in die komende jare sal red of skep en beleggings sal maak wat ons ekonomie nog jare sal dien. Ons is van plan om ons vermoë om hernubare energie op te wek, te verdubbel, terwyl ons ons pogings om energie meer doeltreffend te gebruik verdubbel. Ons sal verkrummelde paaie herbou en verouderde vervoerstelsels herbou en 10 000 skole vir ons kinders opknap, en ons bring gesondheidsorg in die 21ste eeu deur mediese rekords te reken, te tel - talle lewens en miljarde dollars te red.

Ek is bly dat die Huis opgetree het met die dringendheid wat nodig was om hierdie plan te slaag. Ek hoop dat ons dit verder in die senaat kan versterk. Wat ons nie kan doen nie, is om ons voete te sleep of langer te vertraag. Die Amerikaanse volk verwag dat ons moet optree, en dit is presies wat ek van plan is om as president van die Verenigde State te doen.

Maar om my plan te slaag, is nie die einde nie, dit is net die begin van wat ons moet doen. Ons weet dat ons werk moet skep, maar nie sommer enige werk nie. Ons moet werk skep wat gesinne onderhou en drome onderhou in nuwe en groeiende bedrywe, werk wat nie soos 'n doodloopstraat voel nie, maar 'n pad vorentoe en 'n pad na werk wat 'n lewendige en groeiende middelklas sal bevorder, omdat die krag van ons ekonomie kan direk gemeet word aan die sterkte van ons middelklas. En daarom het ek die Task Force oor werkende gesinne in die middelklas gestig, en ek het my vise -president, Joe Biden, gevra om dit te lei.

Daar is niemand wat dieselfde kombinasie van persoonlike ervaring en inhoudelike kundigheid dra nie. Joe het 'n lang pad gekom en baie bereik, maar hy het nooit sy wortels vergeet as 'n werkersklas uit Scranton, Pennsylvania. Hy het die American Dream geleef en geleef en gewerk om die droom vir ander 'n werklikheid te maak.

Hierdie taakspan sal my ekonomiese adviseurs en lede van my kabinet byeenbring om te fokus op beleid wat die middelklas werklik sal bevoordeel, beleid om werk te skep wat goed betaal en 'n kans bied om te spaar, om werk te skep in groeiende velde en om werkers op te lei vul dit in om te verseker dat die werkplekke veilig en regverdig is, sowel as buigsaam vir werknemers wat met die eise van werk en gesin werk.

En ek dink ek moet daarop let dat as ek oor die middelklas praat, ek praat van mense wat tans in die middelklas is, maar ook oor mense wat daarna streef om in die middelklas te wees. Ons vergeet nie die armes nie. Hulle gaan voor en in die middel wees, want ook hulle deel ons Amerikaanse droom. En ons gaan seker maak dat hulle 'n stukkie van die Amerikaanse droom kan kry as hulle daarvoor wil werk.

Ek is ook van mening dat ons baie van die beleide ten opsigte van georganiseerde arbeid wat ons die afgelope agt jaar gesien het, moet omkeer, beleid waarmee ek dit nie eens het nie. Ek beskou die arbeidersbeweging nie as deel van die probleem nie, vir my is dit deel van die oplossing. (Applous.) Ons moet die speelveld gelykstel vir werkers en vakbonde wat hul belange verteenwoordig, want ons weet dat u nie 'n sterk middelklas kan hê sonder 'n sterk arbeidersbeweging nie. Ons weet dat sterk, lewendige, groeiende vakbonde langs mekaar kan bestaan ​​met sterk, lewendige en groeiende ondernemings. Dit is nie 'n voorstel tussen die belange van werkers en die belange van aandeelhouers nie. Dit is die ou argument. Die nuwe argument is dat die Amerikaanse ekonomie nie 'n nul-som spel is nie en nog nooit was nie. As werkers voorspoedig is, koop hulle produkte wat besighede laat floreer. Ons kan mededingend en maer en gemeen wees en steeds 'n situasie skep waar werkers in hierdie land floreer.

Ek gaan dus drie uitvoerende bevele onderteken om te verseker dat federale kontrakte belastingbetalers doeltreffend en effektief bedien. Een van hierdie bevele gaan voorkom dat belastingbetalersgeld federale kontrakteurs wat geld bestee, probeer vergoed om die stigting van vakbonde te beïnvloed. Ons sal ook vereis dat federale kontrakteurs hul werknemers in kennis stel van hul regte ingevolge die National Labor Relations Act. Federale arbeidswette moedig kollektiewe bedinging aan, en werknemers moet hul regte ken om ontwrigting van federale kontrakte te voorkom.

En ek gee 'n bevel uit sodat gekwalifiseerde werknemers hul werk kan behou, selfs as 'n kontrak van eienaar verander. Ons moet die regering nie ontneem van hierdie werkers wat soveel ervaring het om die regering te laat werk nie.

Ons moet ons energie gefokus hou en ons oë gevestig op die werklike maatstaf van ons voorspoed - die sukses van mense wat ek en Joe in hierdie land ontmoet het wat elke dag hard werk. Ek is gretig om hierdie taakspan in aksie te sien. Ek is gretig om die bevindings daarvan met Joe Biden te bespreek. En om saam met die mense in hierdie kamer te werk, is ek van plan om hierdie ekonomie op dreef te kry, werk te skep vir die toekoms en om seker te maak dat die Amerikaanse volk hul drome kan bereik, nie net vir hulself nie, maar ook vir hul kinders.

Laat ek dus ons voorsitter van ons middelklas -taakspan, my vise -president en die trots van Delaware - (gelag) - Joe Biden, voorstel. (Applous.)

DIE VICE PRESIDENT: Dankie, meneer die president. Dankie, meneer die president, vir die vrygewige inleiding. Dit is 'n plesier om julle almal vandag hier te sien, terwyl ons hierdie taakspan vir ons - in die middelklas - aankondig.

Mense, ek wil dankie sê aan die uitstaande individue, van wie baie in hierdie kamer is: lede van die kongres, arbeidslede, sakelede, belangegroepe wat hier nie-winsgewende organisasies verteenwoordig. Ek wil julle almal bedank dat julle vandag hier was. Dit is goed om soveel van my vriende ook te sien - ons vriende van georganiseerde arbeid. Welkom terug in die Withuis. (Gelag en toejuiging.)

U weet, een van die dinge wat ons almal in hierdie kamer weet, is die leiers, meneer die president, van georganiseerde arbeid wat hul lewens toegewy het aan die saak waaroor hierdie taakspan handel - om die lewens van werkende mense beter te maak. Ek sou aanvoer dat daar geen middelklas sou wees as daar nie 'n georganiseerde arbeidersbeweging was wat 150 jaar gelede begin het nie.

En ek is trots daarop dat hierdie administrasie met u leiding, meneer die president, in hierdie poging verbonde sal wees. And I want to thank you for convening and empowering this task force, Mr. President. In doing so, I think you send a very, very clear signal to everyone in this country who goes to work every day without expecting acclaim or big bonuses -- the people that President Teddy Roosevelt referred to as the "doers of deeds," the men and women who teach our children, who protect our neighborhoods, who build our homes, who staff our hospitals, work on the line -- all those people.

To this, the great American middle class, you have simply said, we're on your side again. And it's just -- it's that basic, from my perspective.

And so for too many years we've had a White House that has failed to put the American middle class at the front and center of our economic policies. And even when our economy -- even when our economy was growing, there was a -- and it was very solid ground on which to build -- the middle class found itself slipping. Productivity went up almost 20 percent between 2000 and 2007, yet income for working families fell by $2,000 a year. And now with our economy struggling, the pain is significantly worse. Trillions of dollars in home equity, retirement savings, college savings, gone. And every day, more and more Americans are losing their jobs. And for many people, the work of a lifetime has literally disappeared. It's cruel, but it's also -- it's threatening to sap the spirit of the country.

Mr. President, you said it best in your inaugural address, in my view. You said -- and I quote -- "A nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous." Quite simply, a strong middle class, in our view, equals a strong America.

Clearly, our most urgent task is to stabilize the economy, which the President is well on his way to putting in place the building blocks to do that and to put us on the path to recovery. But on top of this urgent task, though, we have an important long-term task, as well. We need to make sure that the benefits of a strengthening economy, which we're looking forward to, reach the people responsible for generating that strength. That's why President Obama has asked me to lead this task force, to bring together those Cabinet members who have the greatest impact on the well-being of the middle class in our country, as well as seek the opinion and ideas of others in society as to how we can best accomplish these notions.

We'll be looking at everything from access to college at the Department of Education, to business development at the Department of Commerce, to child care and elder care with Health and Human -- excuse me, Health and Human Services, to restoring the balance in the workplace with the Department of Labor, and restoring labor's place with the Department of Labor.

And so this task force I think reflects a critical insight by President Obama that we have to bring together the knowledge, the talent and the skill from the people across the whole range of government to best tackle these problems, and as I said, and invite the private sector to offer the best ideas available to help us do that.

With this task force, we have a single, highly visible group with one single goal: to raise the living standards of the people who are the backbone of this country -- the middle class. Because when they, in fact -- their standard is raised, the poor do better. Every -- and by the way, the wealthy do better, as well. Everyone does better.

So today, with the signing of the President's executive orders, which he's about to sign, we begin the work of the task force. And I want to announce that our executive director will be Dr. Jared Bernstein, a man who has dedicated a substantial portion of his professional career and his writing and studying to the economic issues that most impact on the lives of middle class families.

We're also launching a website today. The website will be astrongmiddleclass.gov. Now, this website won't just be a source of information. Hopefully it will be a place for conversation, as well. We invite Americans to interact with us in the ideas

that they have. It will be a place where people can find out not only what we're doing, but also share their ideas and experiences with us. We'll also be listening to people's stories, as we hold meetings all across the country and during the life of this task force as we prepare a final report.

And our first task force meeting will be held in -- on February 27th in Philadelphia. The focus of that meeting will be green jobs -- those jobs that pay well, can't be outsourced, and will help us move toward a cleaner, more self-sufficient energy future. Each month to follow, we will focus on a different concern in a different part of the country: how to make retirement more secure child and elder care, how to make it affordable improving workplace safety getting the cost of college within reach of the vast majority of the American people help weary parents juggle family and work and create the jobs for the future.

At the end of the day, it will be our responsibility to offer to the President and to the nation clear and specific steps that we need to take to meet these and other concerns. This task force, I might add, which coming out of the Vice President's Office will be a bit unique, will be fully transparent -- totally transparent. (Laughter.) We are going to consult. We are going to consult -- (applause.) We are going to consult openly -- openly and publically without side groups, who can help us develop the most far-reaching, imaginative solutions to help us solve these problems and create the outcome we're looking for.

And we'll put all the material from our meetings and any report we produce up on the website. None of this will happen behind closed doors. We want the American people engaged. We want them engaged in the outset.

There are some people who say -- that are somewhat down on the future economic prosperities -- prospects of the country, who say that we've entered an age when only a few people can prosper and everyone else has to fall behind. We do not accept that proposition. There has never been, and that has never ever been a part of America's story, at any part in our history. And the President and I are determined that it will not be any part of America's story today.

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.

And I'm not exaggerating when I say that. I'm not -- you all know that, that's all they want, is a chance. They wanted leaders like you, Mr. President. They wanted leaders like those who are gathered here in this room. And they have wanted and want today a White House who's ready to say that the measure of our success will be whether the middle class once again shares in the economic success and prosperity of the nation.

And so, Mr. President, I thank you for giving me this responsibility. I look forward to working with the folks in this room and many others. And I also look forward, Mr. President, to you signing these executive orders as the first order of business. (Applous.)


Transcript: The President's Remarks On The Middle Class Task Force

"This task force will bring together my economic advisors and members of my Cabinet to focus on policies that will really benefit the middle class, policies to create jobs that pay well and provide a chance to save, to create jobs in growing fields and train workers to fill them, to ensure that workplaces are safe and fair as well as flexible for employees juggling the demands of work and family," the president said.

Read his remarks and those of the vice president below.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for joining us today. It is a privilege to be among this diverse group representing labor unions and not for profit organizations, advocates for our business community. And I am pleased to be here with our outstanding Vice President, Joe Biden. (Applause.) I see some of my colleagues -- got some senators here, we got a governor, at least one of them I see over here, members of Congress and a lot of good friends and Cabinet members. So this is an outstanding gathering.

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.

Trending Nuus

For two years I traveled across this country. I met thousands of people -- hard-working middle-class Americans who shared with me their hopes and their hardships. These are the men and the women who form the backbone of our economy. The most productive workers in the world. They do their jobs. They build the products and provide the services that drive America's prosperity.

And these are the folks who approached me on the campaign trail, in union halls, in church basements and coffee shops and VFW halls and shop floors, and they told me about jobs lost and homes foreclosed, hours cut, and benefits slashed -- the costs of life slowly slipping away and chipping away at the hopes of affording college or a new home or retirement. It's like the American Dream in reverse. These are the families who have by no fault of their own been hit hardest as the economy has worsened.

They need action -- now. They need us to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan -- a plan that will save or create more than 3 million jobs over the next few years and make investments that will serve our economy for years to come. We intend to double our capacity to generate renewable energy while redoubling our efforts to use energy more efficiently. We will rebuild crumbling roads and retrofit aging transit systems and renovate 10,000 schools for our children, and we'll bring health care into the 21st century by computerizing medical records, counting -- saving countless lives and billions of dollars.

I'm pleased that the House has acted with the urgency necessary in passing this plan. I hope we can strengthen it further in the Senate. What we can't do is drag our feet or delay much longer. The American people expect us to act, and that's exactly what I intend to do as President of the United States.

But passing my plan is not the end, it's just the beginning of what we have to do. We know we need to create jobs, but not just any jobs. We need to create jobs that sustain families and sustain dreams jobs in new and growing industries jobs that don't feel like a dead end, but a way forward and a way up jobs that will foster a vibrant and growing middle class, because the strength of our economy can be measured directly by the strength of our middle class. And that's why I've created the Task Force on Middle Class Working Families, and why I've asked my Vice President, Joe Biden, to lead it.

There's no one who brings to bear the same combination of personal experience and substantive expertise. Joe has come a long way and has achieved a great deal, but he has never forgotten his roots as a working-class kid from Scranton, Pennsylvania. He has lived the American Dream, and lived and worked to make that dream a reality for others.

This task force will bring together my economic advisors and members of my Cabinet to focus on policies that will really benefit the middle class, policies to create jobs that pay well and provide a chance to save, to create jobs in growing fields and train workers to fill them, to ensure that workplaces are safe and fair as well as flexible for employees juggling the demands of work and family.

And I think I should note that when I talk about the middle class, I'm talking about folks who are currently on the middle class, but also people who aspire to be in the middle class. We're not forgetting the poor. They are going to be front and center, because they, too, share our American Dream. And we're going to make sure that they can get a piece of that American Dream if they're willing to work for it.

I also believe that we have to reverse many of the policies towards organized labor that we've seen these last eight years, policies with which I've sharply disagreed. I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem, to me it's part of the solution. (Applause.) We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests, because we know that you cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement. We know that strong, vibrant, growing unions can exist side by side with strong, vibrant and growing businesses. This isn't a either/or proposition between the interests of workers and the interests of shareholders. That's the old argument. The new argument is that the American economy is not and has never been a zero-sum game. When workers are prospering, they buy products that make businesses prosper. We can be competitive and lean and mean and still create a situation where workers are thriving in this country.

So I'm going to be signing three executive orders designed to ensure that federal contracts serve taxpayers efficiently and effectively. One of these orders is going to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to reimburse federal contractors who spend money trying to influence the formation of unions. We will also require that federal contractors inform their employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Federal labor laws encourage collective bargaining, and employees should know their rights to avoid disruption of federal contracts.

And I'm issuing an order so that qualified employees will be able to keep their jobs even when a contract changes hands. We shouldn't deprive the government of these workers who have so much experience in making government work.

We need to keep our energy focused and our eyes fixed on the real measure of our prosperity -- the success of folks that Joe and I have met across this country who are working hard each and every day. I'm eager to see this task force in action. I'm eager to discuss its findings with Joe Biden. And working with the people in this room, I intend to get this economy on track, to create the jobs of the future, and to make sure that the American people can achieve their dreams not just for themselves but for their children.

So with that, let me introduce our chair of our Middle Class Task Force, my Vice President and the pride of Delaware -- (laughter) -- Joe Biden. (Applous.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. President, for that generous introduction. It's a pleasure to see all of you here today, as we announce this task force on our -- on the middle class.

Folks, I want to thank the outstanding individuals, many of whom are in this room: members of Congress, members of labor, members of business, interest groups that are here representing non-profits. I want to thank you all for being here today. It's good to see so many of my friends from -- our friends from organized labor, as well. Welcome back to the White House. (Gelag en toejuiging.)

You know, one of the things that all of us in this room know is those very leaders, Mr. President, of organized labor have dedicated their lives to the thing that this task force is about -- making the lives of working people better. I would argue there would be no middle class were there not a organized labor movement that started 150 years ago.

And I'm proud that this administration, with your leadership, Mr. President, will be allied in that effort. And I want to thank you for convening and empowering this task force, Mr. President. In doing so, I think you send a very, very clear signal to everyone in this country who goes to work every day without expecting acclaim or big bonuses -- the people that President Teddy Roosevelt referred to as the "doers of deeds," the men and women who teach our children, who protect our neighborhoods, who build our homes, who staff our hospitals, work on the line -- all those people.

To this, the great American middle class, you have simply said, we're on your side again. And it's just -- it's that basic, from my perspective.

And so for too many years we've had a White House that has failed to put the American middle class at the front and center of our economic policies. And even when our economy -- even when our economy was growing, there was a -- and it was very solid ground on which to build -- the middle class found itself slipping. Productivity went up almost 20 percent between 2000 and 2007, yet income for working families fell by $2,000 a year. And now with our economy struggling, the pain is significantly worse. Trillions of dollars in home equity, retirement savings, college savings, gone. And every day, more and more Americans are losing their jobs. And for many people, the work of a lifetime has literally disappeared. It's cruel, but it's also -- it's threatening to sap the spirit of the country.

Mr. President, you said it best in your inaugural address, in my view. You said -- and I quote -- "A nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous." Quite simply, a strong middle class, in our view, equals a strong America.

Clearly, our most urgent task is to stabilize the economy, which the President is well on his way to putting in place the building blocks to do that and to put us on the path to recovery. But on top of this urgent task, though, we have an important long-term task, as well. We need to make sure that the benefits of a strengthening economy, which we're looking forward to, reach the people responsible for generating that strength. That's why President Obama has asked me to lead this task force, to bring together those Cabinet members who have the greatest impact on the well-being of the middle class in our country, as well as seek the opinion and ideas of others in society as to how we can best accomplish these notions.

We'll be looking at everything from access to college at the Department of Education, to business development at the Department of Commerce, to child care and elder care with Health and Human -- excuse me, Health and Human Services, to restoring the balance in the workplace with the Department of Labor, and restoring labor's place with the Department of Labor.

And so this task force I think reflects a critical insight by President Obama that we have to bring together the knowledge, the talent and the skill from the people across the whole range of government to best tackle these problems, and as I said, and invite the private sector to offer the best ideas available to help us do that.

With this task force, we have a single, highly visible group with one single goal: to raise the living standards of the people who are the backbone of this country -- the middle class. Because when they, in fact -- their standard is raised, the poor do better. Every -- and by the way, the wealthy do better, as well. Everyone does better.

So today, with the signing of the President's executive orders, which he's about to sign, we begin the work of the task force. And I want to announce that our executive director will be Dr. Jared Bernstein, a man who has dedicated a substantial portion of his professional career and his writing and studying to the economic issues that most impact on the lives of middle class families.

We're also launching a website today. The website will be astrongmiddleclass.gov. Now, this website won't just be a source of information. Hopefully it will be a place for conversation, as well. We invite Americans to interact with us in the ideas
that they have. It will be a place where people can find out not only what we're doing, but also share their ideas and experiences with us. We'll also be listening to people's stories, as we hold meetings all across the country and during the life of this task force as we prepare a final report.

And our first task force meeting will be held in -- on February 27th in Philadelphia. The focus of that meeting will be green jobs -- those jobs that pay well, can't be outsourced, and will help us move toward a cleaner, more self-sufficient energy future. Each month to follow, we will focus on a different concern in a different part of the country: how to make retirement more secure child and elder care, how to make it affordable improving workplace safety getting the cost of college within reach of the vast majority of the American people help weary parents juggle family and work and create the jobs for the future.

At the end of the day, it will be our responsibility to offer to the President and to the nation clear and specific steps that we need to take to meet these and other concerns. This task force, I might add, which coming out of the Vice President's Office will be a bit unique, will be fully transparent -- totally transparent. (Laughter.) We are going to consult. We are going to consult -- (applause.) We are going to consult openly -- openly and publically without side groups, who can help us develop the most far-reaching, imaginative solutions to help us solve these problems and create the outcome we're looking for.

And we'll put all the material from our meetings and any report we produce up on the website. None of this will happen behind closed doors. We want the American people engaged. We want them engaged in the outset.

There are some people who say -- that are somewhat down on the future economic prosperities -- prospects of the country, who say that we've entered an age when only a few people can prosper and everyone else has to fall behind. We do not accept that proposition. There has never been, and that has never ever been a part of America's story, at any part in our history. And the President and I are determined that it will not be any part of America's story today.

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.

And I'm not exaggerating when I say that. I'm not -- you all know that, that's all they want, is a chance. They wanted leaders like you, Mr. President. They wanted leaders like those who are gathered here in this room. And they have wanted and want today a White House who's ready to say that the measure of our success will be whether the middle class once again shares in the economic success and prosperity of the nation.

And so, Mr. President, I thank you for giving me this responsibility. I look forward to working with the folks in this room and many others. And I also look forward, Mr. President, to you signing these executive orders as the first order of business. (Applous.)


Obama launches middle-class task force

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Facing new evidence of a darkening economic climate, President Barack Obama on Friday established a new middle-class task force to assess the status of average-income Americans and recommend new ways to strengthen the economy.

The president also signed three executive orders to support organized labor, a key Democratic constituency.

Addressing an audience of business and union leaders in the White House, Obama said it is time for the the government to act "boldly and swiftly" to assist a struggling middle class.

"We can't . drag our feet or delay much longer. The American people expect us to act, and that's exactly what I intend to do," he said.

The U.S. economy suffered its biggest slowdown in 26 years in the last three months of 2008, according to the government's first reading about the fourth quarter, released Friday.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation's economic activity, fell at an annual rate of 3.8% in the quarter, adjusted for inflation.

The latest numbers are "a continuing disaster for America's working families," Obama said. "The recession is deepening . and the economic crisis is growing."

The president's new Task Force of Middle Class Working Families, led by Vice President Joe Biden, will be composed of a panel of advisers and four Cabinet members. The task force will try to assess the status of the middle class - specifically whether it is growing or shrinking and how well off it is.

It is ultimately expected to issue a series of recommendations on how best to bolster the economic security of average-income Americans.

"A strong middle class equals a strong America," Biden said. It is critical to "raise the living standards of the people who are the backbone of this country."

The task force's first meeting is scheduled to be held on February 27 in Philadelphia. The meeting will focus on "green jobs," employment opportunities tied to renewable energy and environmentally friendly development.

Reaching out to organized labor, the president also issued three executive orders designed to "level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests," Obama said.

"I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem. To me, it's part of the solution," he added. "You cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement."

The first order prevents federal contractors from being reimbursed for expenses that were intended to influence workers' decisions to form unions or engage in collective bargaining.

A second requires federal vendors with more than $100,000 in contracts to post workers' rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

"Federal labor laws encourage collective bargaining, and employees should know their rights to avoid disruption of federal contracts," Obama said.

The third order requires service contractors at federal buildings to offer jobs to qualified current employees when contracts change.


President Obama Wants You to Join the Union

The great union leader John L. Lewis, who headed the United Mine Workers from the '30s through the '50s and helped organize millions of workers into the CIO, used to declare in organizing drives: "President Roosevelt wants you to join the union." Roosevelt never said that in so many words, but FDR did strongly back the Wagner Act, giving workers the clear right to organize.

During World War II, Roosevelt's War Labor Board made clear that corporations seeking war contracts needed to have good labor relations. In practice, that meant unions and it meant "pattern bargaining" in which workers for different companies in the same industry got the same wages, so that companies could not play workers off against each other.

Roosevelt's wartime contracting policies, the Wagner Act, and the militancy of the labor movement laid the groundwork for the golden age of American unions during the postwar boom. Not coincidentally, this was also the one period in the past century when the economy became more equal, and more secure for working people.

So, while Roosevelt's words never quite urged workers to join unions, his deeds spoke volumes. John L. Lewis was well within the bounds of poetic license.

On Friday, President Obama, a onetime organizer, had more words to say about unions, and they were the kind of explicit endorsement that we literally haven't heard from a president since FDR's day.


"We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests, because we know that you cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement," the President said. "When workers are prospering, they buy products that make businesses prosper. We can be competitive and lean and mean and still create a situation where workers are thriving in this country."

And Obama offered deeds to match. This stunning declaration of support came at the White House announcement of a Task Force on Middle Class Working Families headed by Vice President Biden, with Jared Bernstein as its executive director. The idea was proposed last summer by Change to Win unions, who endorsed candidate Obama early in the primary season. He embraced the concept, and it was a commitment he kept. His remarks and actions were a dazzling example of the transformative power of a president to shift public opinion and the political center of gravity.

The task force, and the effusive and genuine embrace of the labor movement, came as a huge relief to union leaders, who have watched anxiously as nearly all the key economic posts went to centrist veterans of the Clinton administration, and the job of secretary of labor was not announced with the other senior economic officials. As it turned out, the appointment of Hilda Solis, a very pro-union member of Congress, was delayed because others had turned down the job first, but the delay sent an unfortunate signal.

Labor activists have also been worried about whether Obama will keep his pledge not just to sign the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) guaranteeing the right to join a union, but to work hard on its behalf with legislators, especially in the Senate. Since the election, the US Chamber of Commerce and allied anti-union business organizations have mounted a furious publicity and lobbying offensive with one message: Mr. President, you don't need this bruising fight right now.

But the Chamber's allies in the Republican House Caucus have beautifully undercut that logic. The Chamber's premise was that EFCA would be highly divisive, at a time then the new president was seeking unity. With the wall-to-wall Republican stonewalling on the Obama recovery package, that premise is up in smoke. And the Chamber's other allies, on Wall Street, have also done a service by inviting some salutary class warfare. Obama responded last week, calling Wall Street bonuses in the face of government bailouts "shameful," and seems to genuinely view the growth of unions as a necessary counterweight.

The task force itself will be a welcome counterweight to the outsized influence of Wall Street inside the Obama administration. Several weeks ago, Jared Bernstein, then a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, wrote a joint op-ed piece for the New York Timeswith Robert Rubin pointing out where they agreed. One issue where they pointedly disagreed was on the Employee Free Choice Act, which Rubin explicitly refused to endorse. The Biden operation now looks to be the go-to place for progressives seeing access to Obama's priorities. The Task Force will serve as the White House center to review all proposals, legislative and administrative, for their impact on the effort to raise wages and rebuild a middle class.

Without Obama's strong personal engagement, EFCA will be anything but a legislative cakewalk. Democrats may have a working majority. But at least five business-oriented Democrats are not considered certain votes for EFCA, and Obama will need to let them know that the White House considers this bill a top priority.

Our last two Democrats went out of their way not to get close to organized labor. Jimmy Carter did not lift a finger when the last big push to put some teeth back in the Wagner Act's right to unionize went down to defeat by just two votes in the Senate in 1978.

On Friday, announcing the Task Force, Obama signed three executive orders. One will prevent federal contractors from discouraging their employees to join unions. Another will assure that workers keep their jobs when a contract changes hands. Down the road is an executive order to promote project agreements on construction contracts.

If Obama is serious, he can take a leaf from FDR's book, and use government's extensive contracting power to actively promote unions. Late in the Clinton administration, then Vice President Al Gore led an effort called the Responsible Contractor Initiative. The idea was to reward federal contractors who took the high road by providing good jobs and not standing in the way of unions.

It remains to be seen just how much real power Obama will give Vice President Biden. But the task force is a superb beginning. If government can just use its influence to make sure employers stay neutral, it will be a new day for the labor movement--and for American progressivism.

Robert Kuttner is Co-Editor of The American Prospect. His new book is "Obama's Challenge: America's Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency."


Obama: “Level the Playing Field†For Unions

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama signed a series of executive orders Friday that he said should "level the playing field" for labor unions in their struggles with management.

Obama also used the occasion at the White House to announce formally a new White House task force on the problems of middle-class Americans. He named Vice President Joe Biden as its chairman.

Union officials say the new orders by Obama will undo Bush administration policies that favored employers over workers. The orders will:

—Require federal contractors to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change.

—Reverse a Bush administration order requiring federal contractors to post notice that workers can limit financial support of unions serving as their exclusive bargaining representatives.

—Prevent federal contractors from being reimbursed for expenses meant to influence workers deciding whether to form a union and engage in collective bargaining.

"We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests," Obama said during a signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

"I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem. To me, it's part of the solution," he said. "You cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement."

Signing the executive orders was Obama's second overture to organized labor in as many days. On Thursday, he signed the first bill of his presidency, giving workers more time to sue for wage discrimination.

"It's a new day for workers," said James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who attended the ceremony with other union leaders. "We finally have a White House that is dedicated to working with us to rebuild our middle class. Hope for the American Dream is being restored."

Of the White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families, Obama said, "We're not forgetting the poor. They are going to be front and center, because they, too, share our American Dream."

He said his administration wants to make sure low-income people "get a piece" of the American pie "if they're willing to work for it."

"With this task force, we have a single, highly visible group with one single goal: to raise the living standards of the people who are the backbone of this country," Biden said.

Obama set several goals for the task force, including expanding opportunities for education and training improving the work-family balance restoring labor standards, including workplace safety and protecting retirement security.

The president and vice president said the task force will include the secretaries of commerce, education, labor, and health and human services because those Cabinet departments have the most influence on the well-being of the middle class. It also will include White House advisers on the economy, the budget and domestic policy.


President Obama vows to reverse anti-union polices Vice President Biden's task force to "restore labor's place" with the Labor Department (2/2)

At the White House on Friday, January 30, 2009, President Obama announced three executive orders relating to labor relations issues, and introducted the Middle Class Working Families Task Force to be headed by Vice President Biden.

Following are excerpts from the president’s remarks, as provided by the White House:

“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… is a continuing disaster for America's working families.

“We need to create jobs that sustain families and sustain dreams… and that's why I've created the Task Force on Middle Class Working Families… This task force will… focus on policies that will… create jobs that pay well… (and) ensure that workplaces are safe and fair as well as flexible for employees juggling the demands of work and family.

“I also believe that we have to reverse many of the policies towards organized labor that we've seen these last eight years, policies with which I've sharply disagreed. I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem, to me it's part of the solution.

“We need to level the playing field for workers and the unions that represent their interests, because we know that you cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement. We know that strong, vibrant, growing unions can exist side by side with strong, vibrant and growing businesses.â€

The president signed three executive orders: One is to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to reimburse federal contractors who spend money trying to influence the formation of unions. The second require that federal contractors inform their employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. And the third is to ensure qualified employees will be able to keep their jobs even when a contract changes hands.

Said Vice President Biden “(The task force) be looking at everything from access to college at the Department of Education, to business development at the Department of Commerce, to child care and elder care with Health and Human Services, to restoring the balance in the workplace with the Department of Labor, and restoring labor's place with the Department of Labor.â€