Protecting the Middle Class News
- Posted byon February 17, 2012 at 7:16 PM EDT
This afternoon, David Plouffe, Senior Advisor to President Obama, sent the message below to the White House email list, announcing that Congress has passed an extension of the payroll tax cut. If you didn't get the email, be sure to sign up.
Good afternoon --
This week, thousands of folks have shared how $40 less in every paycheck would affect them if Congress didn't extend the payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans.
And it worked.
This afternoon, lawmakers got this done. The President will sign that bill into law next week, and we've already invited some of the folks who shared their stories to come to the White House when he does. The past few days have been a constant reminder of how incredible it can be when people from all walks of life join together to speak out. On Tuesday, we sat down with another group of Americans who added their voices to the debate, and they recorded a message just for you. It's a powerful thing to watch.
There will be other fights in the weeks and the months ahead when the kind of engagement they're talking about could make all the difference. So check it out, then pass it along to anyone who is skeptical that real people can't have an impact:
Senior Advisor to the President
- Posted byon February 16, 2012 at 4:00 PM EDT
Each day, more and more Americans are taking advantage of the new free preventive services provided through the health care law. People of all ages can now get the preventive services they need, like mammograms and the new Annual Wellness Visit, free of charge. With more people taking advantage of these benefits, more lives can be saved, and costly, and often burdensome, chronic diseases can be prevented or caught earlier.
A new report shows that approximately 54 million Americans were provided with at least one new free preventive service in 2011 through their private health insurance plans, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. And an estimated 32.5 million people with Medicare received at least one free preventive benefit in 2011, including the new Annual Wellness Visit, since the health reform law was enacted in 2010.
Together, this means an estimated 86 million Americans have already been helped by the health care law’s prevention coverage improvements.
What’s more, many minority populations are also receiving expanded preventive benefits as a result of the law, including an estimated 6.1 million Latinos, 5.5 million Blacks, 2.7 million Asian Americans and 300,000 Native Americans with private insurance. These benefits are particularly important for these Americans who often see higher rates of disease and reduced access to care. Better access to preventive services can help reduce these health disparities.
- Posted byon February 16, 2012 at 3:33 PM EDT
In December, Brian Deese, the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, created a White Board to explain how President Obama's payroll tax cut helps families, businesses, and the economy.
This week, he sat down to show why it's still a key component to help fuel our recovery -- and why Congress needs to continue moving forward to extend the tax cut.
- Posted byon February 15, 2012 at 3:18 PM EDT
President Obama yesterday asked Americans to share their stories, and tell him what losing $40 per paycheck would mean to their family. Of the thousands that responded, many were single moms, who sent us photos, tweets, and emails that illustrate just how important decisions made in Washington are to regular people across the country.
At the end of this month, a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut will expire. If Congress doesn't act, taxes will go up on 160 million hardworking Americans. For a family making about $50,000 a year, the payroll tax cut amounts to about $1,000 a year, or about $40 in every paycheck. It may not seem like a lot of money to some people, but for single moms who wrote to us today, that money can make a big difference. Here are some of their stories:
I'm a single mom and $40.00 means an inhaler for my little girl! She suffers from asthma and her insurance only covers (with co-payment) one inhaler a month and sometimes I have to purchase 2 - 3 a month. So, $40 may not be much for some but it means I can provide for my kid's well being. -- Kathy from Florida
$40 a month helps me pay for the things my daughter needs to play for her high school softball team. Her sports drinks, her cleats, or gloves or whatever it may be that she needs. I am a single mom trying to give my daughter things my parents couldn't afford. Please don't take those $40 a pay away -- Annette from New Jersey
I am a single mom and I have one son still at home. He is 14 and injured his knee in October, and $40 a month means I can afford the $30 co-pay for the orthopedic surgeon visits or the out-of-pocket deductible for his physical therapy. But more than that, if he hadn't had this injury, that $40 a paycheck would still mean a lot to both of us. It might mean he and I could go to the movies and get burgers afterwards, or I could buy him a pair of jeans, or a tank of gas for our car. It would mean we could have a little bit more and that has been nice. I have so very much appreciated the tax relief and the extra money this bill has provided and I know millions of others Americans like me feel the same -- Deborah from Ohio
$40 dollars puts one tank of gas in my economy car. It gives me the gas money I need to drive my son to school. When you are a single mother trying to send a child through college every penny counts -- Marie from New Mexico
- Posted byon February 15, 2012 at 12:03 PM EDT
Yesterday, we had the good fortune to host a group of individuals who answered the President's call and spoke up to share their stories about what an extra $40 in each paycheck means to them.
When they sat down to talk with us, one after another, they said that they want other Americans to find opportunities to speak out.
Check it out:
- Posted byon February 14, 2012 at 9:11 PM EDT
President Obama today asked Americans to share their stories, and tell him what losing $40 per paycheck would mean to their family. Thousands responded, sending us photos, tweets, and emails that illustrate just how important decisions made in Washington are to regular people across the country.
At the end of this month, a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut will expire. If Congress doesn't act, taxes will go up on 160 million hardworking Americans. For a family making about $50,000 a year, the payroll tax cut amounts to about $1,000 a year, or about $40 in every paycheck. It may not seem like a lot of money to some people, but for the people who wrote to us today, that money can make a big difference. Here are some of their stories:
Please, consider that many people like my family live by paycheck only, we cannot even have extra money for emergencies, because living life in this country is so expensive that our paycheck goes to pay rent, bills, and food, and sometimes we don't even have for food. So, please DO NOT take that extra $40.00 taxes cut from our paycheck. -- Brenda from California
To me and my family, $40 is the difference between opportunity and misfortune. When you include registration fees, uniforms, and expenses for equipment, travel and food, extracurricular activities alone can exceed $40 a paycheck (particularly if that money is divided over more than one child). Activities like baseball, martial arts, or community theater are far too important to children's health, development, and well-being to not be apart of their lives. But when it comes down to paying bills and for essentials or extracurricular activities, all one can say is "sorry kids, no baseball this year"! -- Eric from South Carolina
With my paycheck being the sole source of income for our family, $40 means EVERYTHING to us. Having $40 means we can afford groceries in those last few days before my next paycheck so we won't go hungry. It means I can put a FEW gallons of gas in my car to make it to work for the next few days. It means I can afford a copay should my son need to see a doctor. It means we MAY be able to afford a prescription should we be prescribed one. We have done a short sale on our home, cut our budgets back to bare minimum, have relinquished all luxuries in our life but, yet still get up each day with the hope of something better. So, what does $40 mean to me? It means the difference between a healthy happy family that can sleep at night with a full stomach or having to tell my son that we may all have to go to bed hungry. -- Amanda from Virginia
$40.00 means the world to my family and I. When the paycheck ends before the second week has begun, $40 is the difference between paying the mortgage or the light bill. We don't live beyond our means, our cars are paid for. We remodel our home, and maintain the cars ourselves and we work hard for what we have. For Thanksgiving we hosted over 40 friends and relatives. Not because we had that luxury, but because we invited everyone to bring a dish because we knew they couldn't afford the entire meal. We never thought we would get so many. Too many of our friends and family members have been devastated by the current economic downfall of this country. Many own/owned their own business and all are hard working decent Americans. Many, like myself, worked or were/are affiliated with both state and federal government agencies. We know all too well about politics and government spending. Some of our friends and associates are very wealthy and continue to be compensated far too well. $40 for us, that's $960 for the year or groceries for three months, five months of electric bills. When you're financially capable, $40 dollars is a night out at the movies, but for us and too many Americans, it is groceries for three months.
Now with 10 grandchildren, our 6 kids still respectfully rely on our support from time to time. We remember when we could hand them $40 each to go to the movies with high school friends on a Saturday. Now, $40 assists them with groceries for the week. We continue to motivate them, and we try to keep everyone's spirits high with "it will get better if we just stick together until it gets better". -- Michael from Maryland
Read more stories:
- Posted byon February 14, 2012 at 3:07 PM EDT
President Obama this morning called on Congress to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance upon which millions of American rely -- renewing a public campaign that began in December when tens of thousands of Americans took to email, Twitter, and Facebook to say what they would have to give up without the extra money from the tax cuts.
Currently, 160 million Americans benefit for the tax relief that's set to expire at the end of the month. The typical family saves about $40 with every paycheck.
Surrounded by individuals who had written to the White House to say what they would give up without $40, the President said:
Last December, when we had this same fight, your voices made all the difference. We asked folks to tell what it was like -- what it would be like if they lost $40 out of every one of their paychecks -- because we wanted to make sure that people understood this is not just an abstract argument, this is concrete. This makes a difference in the lives of folks all across the country in very important ways.
The President told the story of an entrepreneur named Thierry -- who was in the audience. Thierry wrote the White House to say that if he had to give up $40 with each paycheck, he'd be forced to make the choice between gas money that helps him get to his day job and paying for the Internet service that he needs for his small business. "Forty dollars," Thierry said, "means a heck of a lot."
There were hopeful signs yesterday that the message from people like Thierry might be resonating with lawmakers. But the President pledged to take nothing for granted -- to continue the fight until a bill was on his desk:
[We've] got to keep on making sure that the American people's voices keep breaking through until this is absolutely, finally, completely done. Until you see me sign this thing, you've got to keep on speaking up. Until you see that photograph of me signing it at my desk, make sure it's verified, certified. If it's not on the White House website, it hasn't happened. And I'm going to need to make sure that your voices are heard.
Rest assured that when the President signs the legislation to extend the payroll tax cut, we will indeed write up the details and post a picture on WhiteHouse.gov.
Until then, keep on speaking out: http://www.whitehouse.gov/40dollars
Read more stories:
- Posted byon February 14, 2012 at 12:05 PM EDT
This morning, David Plouffe, Senior Advisor to President Obama, sent the message below to the White House email list, asking people to tell us what it would mean to lose $40 with every paycheck if the payroll tax cut expires at the end of the month. If you didn't get the email, be sure to sign up.
Do you remember the "40 dollars" stories back in December? Congress was about to let a tax cut for millions of middle class families expire.
Then you shared your stories. You talked about how a little extra money goes to help pay for medicine for a sick spouse, gas money to get to work, or school books for a child. Thousands of Americans from different circumstances all spoke out with the same voice, and it was undeniably powerful. Congress extended the tax cut, along with unemployment insurance, but only for two months.
So here we are in mid-February, the deadline only a few days away. And once again, if Congress doesn't act, working families will receive about $40 less with each paycheck.
So help us to highlight again how Congress's inaction would affect everyday families outside of Washington.
And this time, we want to put a face to your voice. So take a minute to snap a photo. And if you can, show us what you'll have to give up without that extra money in your paycheck. We'll use images from Americans around the country on WhiteHouse.gov to show how the payroll tax cut helps real people.
Share your picture and story today:
Senior Advisor to the President
- Posted byon February 14, 2012 at 7:00 AM EDT
Today, President Obama has invited a group of Americans who made their voices heard the last time Congress threatened to raise their taxes to the White House.
At the end of this month, if Congress doesn’t act, taxes are set to go up on 160 million hardworking Americans, and the President believes that lawmakers must prevent this middle class tax hike without drama or delay.
For a family making about $50,000 a year, the payroll tax cut amounts to about $1,000 a year, or about $40 in every paycheck. In December, we asked America to tell us what losing $40 per paycheck would mean for their family, and the answers came from across the country — from students trying to stretch the budget a little bit further. From moms who need to buy their children lunch every day in the school cafeteria. And from commuters who are filling up the tank and looking at rising gas prices. Using twitter, email and Facebook, they told us clearly that $40 can make all the difference in the world.
Ultimately, thanks to these stories, Congress did the right thing and passed a two-month extension of the tax cut and unemployment insurance – but only after a drawn-out debate that put the strength of our economy and the security of middle class families at risk. Now that extension is about to expire.
The President is also inviting all Americans who oppose raising their taxes to share their own stories with the White House – you can submit them on WhiteHouse.gov, using the Twitter hashtag #40dollars or post them on our Google+ page or Facebook wall. You can watch the President’s remarks with these hardworking American families at 10:40 am ET on WhiteHouse.gov/live.
- Posted byon February 11, 2012 at 6:30 AM EDT
President Obama urges Congress to extend the payroll tax cut to prevent a tax hike on 160 million hardworking Americans.
Tell us what $40 means to you and your family. What would you have to go without or give up if Congress doesn’t act?
- Posted byon February 9, 2012 at 4:49 PM EDT
This morning, the federal government and the attorneys general of 49 states announced an agreement with the nation’s five largest mortgage providers -- Ally Financial, Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan, and Wells Fargo.
Because of that agreement, the financial institutions will provide at least $25 billion to address mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure abuses. It will not only help thousands of working families now, it will establish new protections for homeowners going forward. Read more about the National Mortgage Settlement here.
Earlier, President Obama spoke about what he called a "landmark settlement." He discussed the irresponsible practices from lenders that created the housing crisis and said:
Under the terms of this settlement, America’s biggest banks -- banks that were rescued by taxpayer dollars -- will be required to right these wrongs. That means more than just paying a fee. These banks will put billions of dollars towards relief for families across the nation. They’ll provide refinancing for borrowers that are stuck in high interest rate mortgages. They’ll reduce loans for families who owe more on their homes than they’re worth. And they will deliver some measure of justice for families that have already been victims of abusive practices.
All told, this isn’t just good for those families -- it’s good for their neighborhoods, it's good for their communities, and it's good for our economy.
- Posted byon February 7, 2012 at 7:57 PM EDT
Ed note: This was originally posted on the USDA blog.
While fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a relatively limited problem, any amount of waste or abuse is too much. As I wrote back in December, we are taking more aggressive steps to root out fraud and abuse as part of this administration’s Campaign to Cut Waste and to continue improving our stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
This week we were pleased to announce that fiscal year 2012 first quarter results for USDA’s efforts to identify and eliminate fraudulent retailers from SNAP are available. From October 1 through December 31, 2011, USDA took final actions to sanction through fines or temporary disqualifications—more than 225 stores found violating program rules. We also permanently disqualified over 350 stores for trafficking (exchanging benefits for cash) SNAP benefits.
Again, cases of abuse in SNAP are pretty rare and the vast majority of SNAP participants and authorized retailers play by the rules using the program as intended. However, it’s important that we stay vigilant and raise awareness of these issues so people know how and where to report any incidences of abuse.
- Posted byon February 4, 2012 at 6:30 AM EDT
President Obama continues his call for a return to American values, including fairness and equality, as part of his blueprint for an economy built to last.
- Details for President Obama's plan to help homeowners.
- Posted byon February 2, 2012 at 1:21 PM EDT
Last week in his State of the Union Address, the President laid out his blueprint for an economy built to last, where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. He believes this is a make or break moment for the middle class and those trying to reach it. He knows what’s at stake: the very survival of the basic American promise that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, and put enough away for retirement.
The fact is, economic security for the middle class has been eroding for decades. Millionaires and billionaires saw their wealth skyrocket while too many Americans were struggling to get by. And in 2008, the house of cards collapsed. Mortgages were sold to folks who couldn’t afford or understand them. In addition to the nearly eight million jobs lost, it left responsible homeowners holding the bag and badly hurt from this irresponsible behavior.
The President refuses to stand on the sidelines and let folks fend for themselves. That’s why he laid out a plan to help responsible borrowers and relieve some of the pain caused by the financial crisis. The President knows the government can’t fix the housing market on its own, and he believes that responsible homeowners should not have to sit and wait for the market to hit bottom to get relief when there are measures at hand that can make a meaningful difference. This includes allowing these homeowners the ability to save an average of $3,000 dollars a year by refinancing at today’s low interest rates. He also put forward a single set of standards, or a Homeowner Bill of Rights, to make sure borrowers and lenders play by the same rules.
Additionally, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, with Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, announced a pilot sale of foreclosed properties to be transitioned into rental housing. This will help stabilize neighborhoods and improve home prices. These are just a few of the steps that’ll strengthen the housing market and help folks who are underwater on their mortgage.
- Posted byon February 2, 2012 at 10:00 AM EDT
In his State of the Union message last week, President Obama laid out a blueprint for an America that’s built to last—where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded. Today, the Departments of Treasury and Labor are taking steps to strengthen economic security for our nation’s seniors by giving Americans greater investment information and access to more choices to plan for a secure retirement. These steps will be of particular importance to women, who tend to live longer and have fewer retirement assets and lower retirement income than men.
The Department of Labor is taking action to require 401(k) plan providers to better disclose the cost and nature of the services they provide, while Treasury and the IRS are announcing steps that will ease regulatory barriers in the market for annuities and other forms of lifetime income. The Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) has prepared a detailed report describing the significance of today’s actions, which can be accessed here.
Today’s announcements complement previous Administration initiatives to make retirement more secure for American families. In September 2009, President Obama announced expanded opportunities for automatic enrollment in retirement savings plans. The President has also championed an automatic IRA legislative proposal through which tens of millions of workers without access to a workplace retirement plan would be automatically enrolled in IRAs through payroll deposit contributions, while remaining free to opt out. And the Administration has proposed easing requirements on the timing and amount of distributions from retirement accounts for many retirees, reducing the compliance burden and providing elderly Americans with greater control over their retirement assets.
- Posted byon February 1, 2012 at 8:05 PM EDT
Today, in Falls Church, Virginia, President Obama expanded on the ideas he first presented in the State of the Union on ways to help responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages.
Here are more details about that plan.
But the President also said that we can't wait on Congress to take action to help working families in this country:
Already, we’ve set up a special task force I asked my Attorney General to establish to investigate the kind of activity banks took when they packaged and sold risky mortgages. And that task force is ramping up its work as we speak. We’re going to keep at it and hold people who broke the law accountable and help restore confidence in the market. We’re going to speed assistance to homeowners. And we’re going to turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many hardworking Americans.
Read the full remarks here. Or watch the video to learn more.
- Posted byon February 1, 2012 at 1:31 PM EDT
In response to press inquiries received on today’s housing announcement by the Obama administration, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director (CFPB) Richard Cordray issued the following statement:
“The principles articulated by the Obama administration today are good guideposts for much-needed reforms in the mortgage market. The problems that plague consumers are well-documented. Too many consumers were steered into complicated mortgages that they did not understand and couldn’t afford. Too many families were forced into foreclosure because paperwork was lost, phone calls went unanswered, errors were not resolved, or documents were falsified.
“To protect consumers, there must be clear rules of the road and real consequences for breaking them. The Consumer Bureau is already hard at work making the costs and risks of mortgages clear upfront through our Know Before You Owe project. The financial reform law also requires us to create new mortgage servicing rules that hold servicers accountable for disclosing fees and fixing problems. We are also working with other federal agencies to develop common-sense national servicing standards. But having rules in place isn’t enough. We are closely monitoring mortgage servicers to make sure that no one gains an unfair advantage by breaking the law. Taking these steps to fix the mortgage market is good for consumers, honest businesses, and our entire economy.”
The CFPB’s draft simplified mortgage disclosure is available online at: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Jan2012_Estimate_Honeylocust.pdf
- Posted byon January 28, 2012 at 6:45 AM EDT
In his weekly address, President Obama discusses the blueprint he put forward this week in the State of the Union Address for creating an economy built to last. After focusing on American manufacturing, American energy, and skills for American workers during each of the last three days, he used his weekly address to highlight his commitment to a renewal of American values. The President is challenging leaders in Washington, DC to follow the model set by our men and women in the military, end the gridlock and start tackling the issues that matter – without regard for personal ambition.
- Watch the enhanced version of the 2012 State of the Union Address
- Read President Obama's Blueprint for an America Built to Last
- Take a deep dive into the data behind the President’s plan
- Find out how you can talk to Obama Administration officials about the President's plan
- Everything you need to know about President Obama's Blueprint for American-made energy
- Everything you need to know about President Obama's Blueprint for manufacturing
- Posted byon January 27, 2012 at 7:08 PM EDT
A quick look at what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov:
State of the Union: In his third State of the Union Address on Tuesday, the President outlined his vision for “an America that lasts”—one that will bring about a new era of American manufacturing, and promote homegrown and alternative energy sources—and presented a blueprint to achieve that vision. Check out this video that goes behind the scenes as President Obama prepared the speech.
Blueprint for Manufacturing: During his visit to New Hampshire following Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Vice President Biden highlighted the Administration’s plan to help businesses bring jobs back to America through manufacturing. He echoed the President’s message that we need to commit to train workers with the skills they will need to compete in the growing sectors of our economy.
Talking Energy in Las Vegas: From a UPS facility in Las Vegas, the President spoke about the future of American-made energy. “[Even] with all this oil production, we only have about 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves,” the President said, “So we've got to have an all-out, all-in, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every source of American energy—a strategy that is cleaner and cheaper and full of new jobs.”
#WHchat: Throughout the week, more than thirty administration officials have answered questions about President Obama’s State of the Union Address and issues Americans care about through a series of Office Hours on Twitter—addressing queries about everything from the economy to disability policy. Vice President Biden—known in the twitterverse as @VP—answered questions submitted by people across the country in his first-ever Twitter interview from an advanced manufacturing facility in Rochester, New Hampshire.
NHL Champs: On Monday, the President welcomed the Boston Bruins to the White House and congratulated them on their Stanley Cup victory in June—marking the team’s sixth Cup championship, and their first one in nearly forty years. Their triumph, the President said, “proved that teamwork is everything.” After their visit to the White House, the players led a hockey clinic—affirming that being a champion doesn’t end when you hang up your skates.
- Posted byon January 26, 2012 at 5:40 PM EDT
Back in December, thousands of Americans shared their stories about the impact that losing $40 per paycheck would have on them, and on their families, if Congress did not pass the payroll tax cut.
Responses poured in from across the country, and these stories made a difference: Congress passed and President Obama signed a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut for middle class families before it expired at the end of 2011.
Amber Morris from Virginia Beach, Virginia was one of the people who wrote in to say what losing $40 per paycheck would mean to her, and on Tuesday night she joined First Lady Michelle Obama for the President’s State of the Union Address. Amber was selected to represent the tens of thousands of Americans who made their voices heard during the debate.