Obama creates historic White House task force

The Obama Transition Team announced the formation of an historic task force this week – the White House Task Force on Working Families. According to the transition team's announcement, Vice President-elect Joe Biden will head the task force.

The task force will work with various federal agencies that handle or oversee 'key issues facing middle class and working families.' The task force will advise President Obama on executive orders and propose legislative and policy items that aim to boost the standards of living of working families.

In addition, the task force will work with members of Congress, representatives of labor, advocacy groups and business as part of its mandate, the transition team stated.

Specifically, Obama has asked the task force to find ways to expand education and training opportunities, improve work and family balance, restore labor standards and workplace safety, protect working family incomes and improve retirement security.

“My administration will be absolutely committed to the future of America’s middle-class and working families,' Obama said in a press statement. 'They will be front and center every day in our work in the White House.'

Biden added, “President-elect Obama and I know the economic health of working families has eroded, and we intend to turn that around.”

In a statement Dec. 22 following the announcement, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney welcome the formation of the task force and expressed willingness to work with it. The improvement of the lives of the working families will take a lot of work, however, he suggested.

'Working families are facing an extraordinary and unprecedented set of challenges right now,' Sweeney said. '[T]he economy is in meltdown; the real wages and incomes of middle class Americans have been stagnant or eroding for decades; savings and home values have plummeted; and our nation’s health care and retirement security systems are in dire need of reform.'

Change to Win labor federation Chair Anna Burger added that the formation of the task force demonstrates a commitment on the part of the administration to the needs of working families.

She added, 'Hardworking men and women are struggling to make ends meet because of stagnant wages and declining family incomes. Personal consumption is the largest component of the US economy and workers' wages are the largest single source of consumer spending. Without action to stimulate wage increases, consumption will continue to falter, and the economy will slip deeper into recession.'

According to the Obama transition team, members of the White House Task Force on Working Families will include the secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Commerce, as well as the directors of the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Domestic Policy Council, and the chair of the Council of Economic Advisors.

If Obama's appointments are approved by the Senate, the task force would include (in order) Hilda Solis, Tom Daschle, Arne Duncan, Bill Richardson, Peter Orszag, Melody Barnes and Christina Romer.