‘Middle Class Economics’ Take Center Stage in Obama’s State of the Union


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President Obama proposed a “middle class economics” agenda in his State of the Union speech which included child care tax credits, paid sick leave, a raise in the minimum wage and free community college.

President Obama on Tuesday night delivered a State of the Union address full of advocacy for working families, including fighting inequality, raising wages and strengthening unions.

Obama proposed a series of initiatives under the tagline of “middle class economics,” recognizing that although the economy has recovered for some – especially on Wall Street – working families still face many challenges.

“The President’s focus on raising wages through collective bargaining, better paying jobs, a fairer tax code, fair overtime rules and expanded access to education and earned leave sent the right message at the right time,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

Obama proposed an annual tax credit of up to $3,000 per child to help working parents pay for childcare and a tax increase on the richest Americans to pay for free community college.

Piggybacking on the success of paid leave laws in states and cities across the country, Obama asked Congress to send him a bill that provides every American worker seven days of paid sick leave per year. “It’s the right thing to do,” said Obama.

He called on Congress to pass an increase in the minimum wage and reform overtime loopholes that cheat U.S. workers out of pay they’ve earned.

“To everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it,” said Obama. “If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.”

In a rebuttal to frequent GOP attacks to silence working people and unions, Obama said U.S. workers “still need laws that strengthen rather than weaken unions, and give American workers a voice.”

But Obama also disappointed working families when he asked Congress for Fast Track Trade Authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP, which is being negotiated behind closed doors between the U.S. and 11 Pacific-Rim countries, would dramatically expand corporate control over the U.S. economy and threatens to offshore hundreds of thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs to countries with lower wages.

Fast Track Trade Authority would prevent members of Congress from offering any amendments to change provisions that hurt U.S. workers.

Tell Congress to Vote ‘No’ on Fast Track for the TPP.