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. clifford

    New Yorker : Ditto, but unfortunately some people believe it is there 'civic duty" to pay more taxes and "help out"! Can you imagine!!!

    December 21, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  2. A Really Conservative Realist

    Great post New Yorker

    We can't afford the standard of living in our country now. We should be encouraged to LOWER our standard of living and stop borrowing to raise it.

    Our policies as a country should DISCOURAGE SPENDING and ENCOURAGE SAVING!!! Sadly, our government seems to think that a debt based economy makes good sense. It does make good slaves.

    December 21, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. Sam

    CNN, please erase the word "Czar" from your vocabulary. That was a term used by Bush to be able to:

    a) delegate core tasks of a president to other people because he wanted to cover his backside or didn't care

    b) designate people (without a matching position in the constitution) to push cabinet members and staff towards the NeoCon agenda

    I hope the era of non-accountablilty is over and the next president will again adhere to the motto: "The buck stops here!"

    December 21, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. Texas Teacher

    I don't agree with New Yorker... I suggest he read Upton Sinclair's THE JUNGLE, if he wants to know what happens when the government steps out of the way and let's BIG BUSINESS have full reign with no regulation. We have nearly come to that point under the Bush administration. I am grateful that Obama is going to reverse that trend with VP Biden's new role, and his support of the very people Bush has ignored for the last 8 years.

    December 21, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |


    December 21, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  6. curtis in WI

    Can we just retire the word 'czar' in this sort of context alongside the suffix '-gate'. Both have been so overused as to be meaningless.

    December 21, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. Mark in Iowa

    Why in a "democracy" such as ours, do we insist on using labels such as "czar"?

    Given our success with the drug czar, I can't wait to see the results here...

    December 21, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  8. Lorna

    I believe unification is our only hope. We need to seriously go back to when things were good. Buying American and boycotting anything foreign made (whenever possible). The American people – NOT POLITICIANS – are the answer. I found some really cool bumper stickers on EBAY that blast Shelby for his disgusting comments about our unions and the Big 3. It may be a small thing but I'm buying them for my vechicles and doing my part!!! That's where it all starts!

    December 21, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. Trish

    Does anyone in our government really care about what is happening to the real people of this country. So far it's a lot of talk and not much action to help working families. I see it as say anything they think people want to hear. As for the increase in pay for congress – we the people should be up in arms over this. What the heck are they thinking? That just shows they could care less.

    December 21, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  10. Kathy50

    I think this is WONDERFUL! God bless Joe Biden and Barack Obama! To all you naysayers – Don't you have a Rush Limbaugh program to tune in to? Keep your Conservative gloom and doom to yourself. No one wants to read you. The much needed Political LANDSLIDE has begun!

    December 21, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
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