Matt Rourke/AP
Vice President Joe Biden

Middle Class Task Force Kicks Off in Philly

February 28, 2009 07:58 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
Despite financial hurdles, Vice President Joe Biden’s Middle Class Task Force held its first meeting in Philadelphia to focus on energy efficiency and creating green jobs.

Green Jobs at Forefront

On Friday, Vice President Biden led a discussion on green jobs during the task force’s first meeting at the University of Pennsylvania and touched on President Obama’s stimulus plan. The vice president also talked about lowering energy costs for Philadelphia homeowners.

“We’re making an unprecedented investment in the recovery of this country and an unprecedented investment in clean energy,” Biden told the crowd, according to KYW News Radio. “Clean energy that we believe will create tens of thousands over time, of good, high paying jobs, the vast majority of which are not exportable.”

Biden also wrote an editorial for the Philadelphia Inquirer in which he focused on Obama’s economic-recovery package containing “more than $20 billion for investment in a cleaner, greener economy, including $500 million for green job training.” Biden also referred to the middle class as “the economic engine of this country” and emphasized that his task force would first tackle the potential impacts of green jobs on middle-class workers.

In Washington, D.C., members of Congress have expressed concern that environmental efforts like passing laws to reduce greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide emissions will likely take a back seat to stabilizing the ailing economy. But while governing bodies on both sides of the Atlantic are stepping back from environmental efforts, some critics point to an emerging green economy as the path toward a stronger, more diverse marketplace. During the presidential race, both Barack Obama and John McCain pointed to “green jobs” as an economic engine that drives the country forward.

Related Topic: California’s green jobs

In California, a “green jobs experiment” has struggled, according to an editorial in The Wall Street Journal. The plan is “similar to proposed federal global-warming measures,” with an emissions cap and tax-increases for those who don’t abide by the standards. Economists have criticized the plan heavily.

Background: Middle Class Task Force

In late January, President Obama announced the Middle Class Task Force, aimed at finding new ways “to create more jobs in areas that pay well, reduce pollution and lessen America’s reliance on foreign oil,” and appointed Joe Biden to lead the project, according to MSNBC. Various industries can be tailored to offer green jobs, including construction and energy utilities. In addition, “traditional jobs,” such as the automotive industry, “could be retooled to go green,” MSNBC reported.

In line with President Obama’s focus on engaging with the public and opening up discussion, a Middle Class Task Force Web site has been set up to allow people to submit their ideas for green jobs.

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