December 21st, 2008
11:36 AM ET
14 years ago

Biden as 'Working Families Czar'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Vice President-elect Joe Biden will head a new task force on working families on Jaunary 20, 2009."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Come Inauguration day, newly minted Vice President Joe Biden will add one more task to his job title: working families czar, so-to-speak.

On Sunday, President-elect Barack Obama's transition team announced the new "White House Task Force on Working Families" - a major initiative targeted at "raising the living standards of middle-class, working families in America." The initiative will be chaired by Biden.

Other members of the task force will include: Secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Commerce, as well as the Directors of the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Domestic Policy Counsel, and the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors.

In an interview with ABC's "This Week," Biden said it's a "discrete job that's going to last only for a certain period of time."

"The one thing that we use as a yardstick of economic success of our administration: Is the middle class growing? Is the middle class getting better? Is the middle class no longer being left behind? And we'll look at everything from college affordability to after school programs ... I will be the guy honchoing that policy," he said.

Biden said he will have the authority to get a consensus among the task force - but will use his relationship with the president if a consensus isn't reached.

"If in fact there is no consensus, [I'd] go to the president of the United States and say, 'Mr. President, I think we should be doing this, cabinet member so and so thinks that. You're going to have to resolve what it is we think we should do.'"

Obama has set up several key goals for the task force, including: Expanding education and training; improving work and family balance; a focus on labor standards, including workplace safety; protecting working-family incomes and retirement security.

So what power will the new task force have in shaping policy? According to the transition team, Biden and other members "will expedite administrative reforms, propose Executive orders, and develop legislative and public policy proposals that can be of special importance to working families."

"My administration will be absolutely committed to the future of America's middle-class and working families. They will be front and center every day in our work in the White House," said Obama in a statement. "And this Task Force will be one vehicle we will use to ensure that we never forget that commitment."

And in line with the Obama team's pledge of full transparency, the task force will issue annual reports, available online to the public.

Anna Burger, chairwoman of Change To Win - a group made up of seven unions - hailed today's announcement.

"Today's announcement shows that President-elect Obama is committed to middle class families and change truly is coming to Washington. Working people finally have an administration that is willing and eager to take action to address their needs," she said in a statement. "The White House Task Force on Working Families is a vital first step toward restoring our economy and making government work for working people again."

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Joe Biden
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. nevadaracer

    I would hope that this is not the "change" most Obama/Biden voters were hoping for...

    If it IS the "change" they were hoping for...this country is doomed...

    December 21, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  2. denyse

    FINALLY! A voice for us little people. Thank you, President Obama and your caring administration. I just pray that you don't get too bogged down with all that is so wrong with this broken economy that you cannot achieve what you have set out to do.

    December 21, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. Caesar

    the use of the title czar stems from the Latin Caesar. We all know that Caesar effectively ended the Republic with his dictatorship for life scheme. He positioned Augustus to remold Rome into an Empire...please stop using the term CZAR! As a democracry we should abhor that title whether official or not to describe our nation's leaders!

    December 21, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  4. Ken

    Lets ask the question what is the plan and how will it be executed. We tend to hire the people and give them the salary and then we pay them and get no results. Lets try the Car company ideals which is lets lease Government and if we don't like the results we can trade them in for a better model. The American people have chose change which should be easy but when there are no results and higher spending and still no results lets do what the whole world is doing. Start the layoff process please start with the Congress- Senate- and then State Government. Lets see some results that standup to the Global Warming that started when our leaders started talking.
    Ready For Change- America Is Ready for Change.

    December 21, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. California Gold

    Boy I hope this is more than hollow words. I'm already fostering dogs of homeless people and have opened my home to one person who is in need.

    December 21, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. kurabaskvioul

    I am sure biden will be working that day on a plan to bail out all CEOs who don't know how to run companies, so they give them bonuses and bailouts.

    December 21, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  7. Green

    Stop Czaring. Seriously. It's use as a title a meaningless relic brought on as a political gimmick in the Reagan administration. The man will be Vice President. I think that supercedes 'Czar of the Proletariat'.

    December 21, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. Dennis

    The way to help working families is very simple, reduce their income taxes and the income taxes of the companies they work for and above all drastically cut government spending by downsizing the Federal bureacracy. This solution won't fail. We don't need an expansion of government via a "Working Families Czar": And when Biden says that this is a temporary position, don't beleive him. Government programs are like uninvited guests who crash a party, they never go away.

    December 21, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  9. Kevin Belzer

    This sounds super. "Working Families"..
    How about "formerly working families" task force.
    By the time Obama takes office, unemployment rates will probably rise by another percent (or god-forbid, two.)
    Biden was right when he said Obama will be tested.. but it won't be terrorists. It will be economy. I was laid off in October, after 14 years with the same Financial Services company. I have sent my resume out atleast 50 times, and aside from 4 "sorry we can't help you" responses, I have heard nothing else. I am 38 years old, and have already been told I am "over-tenured". Thank god I can collect 20% of my previous salary in unemployment benefits. I can take the blame for buying my house at such an outrageous price, after all it is the consumers fault that real estate prices rose so quickly, it had nothing to do with banks eager to lend money to get their transactions fees, mortgage brokers eager to justify any amount of lending to get their transaction fees, and realtors eager to explain why we'd better buy know before prices go up any more so that they can get their 6%..

    Let's bail out AIG(?).. I can justify bailing out the Auto companies easier than I can justify the Insurance/financial companies. The Auto companies will provide the products we need... The Financial companies "create" products (like mortgages, and second mortgages, and whole life insurance, etc.) that create transaction fees for multiple levels of salespeople.

    -Frustrated and too old to work at age 38.

    December 21, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  10. Wonderful


    December 21, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  11. will

    All I want to know is, will those of us who have taking the time to worked hard and gained the knowledge to apply to a particular area study be able to have an opportunity to earn a decent pay? Many of us have taking out student loans which come straight from the tax payers of America. Those who have worked and paid taxies also have paid for me and a lot of other people to get an education but we are not able to repay the tax payers because we don’t have the opportunity to work and earn a decent pay. Also, many College graduates don’t have past work experience that many employers are asking for, therefore, employers need to make an adjustment to their request for experienced works, and think more about training works.

    December 21, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. Kenneth M. of Flushing Queens

    Headlines: Gay Men Put Obama In Sticky Spot over Rick Warren Invocation.

    December 21, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  13. Gaffe czar

    I haven't been this excited since watching FDR on TV.

    December 21, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. 2sense

    Working families don't need a Czar. They need work.

    December 21, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. A McNeal Atlanta

    Obama is officially the "Great Organizer" What brilliant idea. This will legitimize and focus the role of the Vice President and ensure that these agencies are working together and bring forward synergistic policies. I can"t wait to see them in action and I hope this model is used across the federal government in an effort to keep change from being bottle necked at the office of the president (as in the past). Such reorganization will set in place the structure for which "Change" can occur. Sounds like the beginning of a new and effective Washington DC.

    December 21, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. GuyInVA

    Good call, New Yorker.

    December 21, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  17. Kira

    Lower the tax rate for people at lower income levels. Institute an absolute maximum interest rate and late fee that credit card companies and other lenders are allowed to charge. Recognize that many of us who are drowning under credit debt and taxes we can't afford never splurged on luxuries. For example, I am struggling to pay off debt from dental work and roof repairs. My TV is 30 years old and I drive a 1986 car. I have never declared bankruptcy, but I can barely keep my head above water, let alone built up an emergency fund or save for retirement. People like me aren't looking for handouts. Just don't make it nearly impossible for us to help ourselves!!!

    December 21, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  18. paul

    I agree with NEW YORKER

    As well, why does it seem that politicians say things that they seem to believe no one else knows?! This is a man who just recently said THE ECONOMY IS MUCH WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT. Who is the "we" he is talking about because even before the election the whole country, the whole world knew the economy was much worse than ANYONE thought! It was on the economy that his team was able to pull away from McCain's.

    Wake up, Biden, and smell the coffee! And, god forbid, that this man actually makes it to the white house if something happens to Barack! If we thought that Bush was out of touch and a moron, Biden will give Bush a nice run for his money! (Advise, Obama, send Biden into that tanker that Cheney's been hiding in and leave him there until re-election, then choose someone else)

    December 21, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    DITTO what "New Yorker" wrote!

    December 21, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  20. David Giddens, American

    For those who are determined that the greedy are willing to look out for the rest of us, think twice. The purpose of government has never been clearer, and it is not designed to protect the rich, or the poor, or some of those in betweens, but the whole of the body of people who are being governed. Thank God there are those who have the whole in mind and are clearly aware of the depths of the issues and problems created by those forces unleashed by trusting the greed of human kind.

    December 21, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  21. PJP

    TO New Yorker: You said a mouthfull and I agree. From OK!!!

    December 21, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  22. Honchoing Joe

    Now I see why Biden couldn't get as many votes for president as Palin did for mayor.

    December 21, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  23. JEAN

    I don't care about much, just home focus. I mean American policies and our goverment to come home!!

    December 21, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  24. Jeff

    New Yorker,

    In a perfect world that would work. Unfortunately, we're paying $10 billion per month for the war in Iraq. That could have been avoided, but the fraud & greed you speak of can only be dealt with through vigilance and heavy prosecution. (Jack Abramoff? Bernard Madoff?) We've already seen that deregulation, and the practice of sending wolves to guard the hen house (Dept. of Interior investigators cozying up to oil companies and being allegedly rewarded with prostitutes and drugs) doesn't work.

    All things considered, I'd rather pay for heavier regulations, and not have investigators appointed by a party that has a financial stake in not seeing the investigations carried through.

    December 21, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  25. Gretchen

    What a joke. This is the guy who said it was "patriotic" to pay higher taxes. Got news for you Joe–you have NOTHING in common with the average taxpayer; you are just another empty suit lifer politician collecting my tax dollars as a paycheck.

    December 21, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
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