VP Biden Kicks off Middle Class Task Force with Focus on Green Jobs

By Lindsey Ellerson

Feb 27, 2009 5:46pm

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports: Vice President Biden kicked off the Obama Administration’s Middle Class Task Force with a panel discussion on environmentally friendly (“green”) jobs at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia today. So what are green jobs? Biden defined them as, “jobs associated with environmental improvement and improving the lives of the American people.” “Scientists working on an advanced, renewable alternative to CO2-producing fossil fuels is engaged in a green job, as is a laborer winterizing or weatherizing a home, or a lineman or a linewoman building out the smart grid — they’re all green jobs,” the vice president said. The Obama Administration formed this task force in order to identify and focus on economic policies to benefit the middle class, bringing together the administration’s economic advisers and Cabinet members to work on three key areas: job creation, job training and work-life balance. Biden said today that in this economic crisis, the middle class is suffering. “They weren’t very much in on the upside; they’re in on the downside,” he said. He highlighted key critical ways that investing in green jobs can help the middle class: more jobs and better paying jobs to keep up with 21st century needs; lower energy costs and a cleaner environment. The task force meeting consisted of a panel of experts in this field, focusing on how the economic recovery plan can create environmentally friendly jobs and provide workers with training. Biden was joined by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), Sens. Arlen Specter (R) and Bob Casey (D) and Democratic Reps. Chaka Fattah and Robert Brady. To tee up the event, the Vice President penned an op-ed in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer and touted the $20 billion in the stimulus plan that was put aside for a green economy, including $500 million for job training. "We’re starting to make the investments needed to leave a cleaner world to our children while also creating good jobs right now. When you’re creating green jobs, you’re doing well by doing good," Biden wrote. At the panel event, Biden highlighted several areas that will see greater funding because of the stimulus plan including investment in wind and solar energy, modernization of the electrical grid, and more energy efficient housing. When announcing on January 30 that Biden will head up the new task force on the middle class, President Obama cited Biden’s upbringing and work ethic as supporting evidence for his first big assignment. "There is no one who brings to bear the same combination of personal experience and substantive expertise. Joe’s come a long way and has achieved a great deal, but he’s never forgotten his roots as a working-class kid from Scranton, Pa.," Obama said last month at the White House. "He’s lived the American dream, and lived and worked to make that dream a reality for others." "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 in this country — the middle class," Biden said that day. "Because when they, in fact, their standard is raised, the poor do better. … And by the way, the wealthy do better as well. Everyone does better." – Karen Travers

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