Spotlight Exclusives

The Greening of Biden۪s Middle Class Task Force

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Last week۪s inaugural Middle Class Task Force meeting in Philadelphia on green jobs had city leaders falling all over themselves to claim the title of greenest city. With all of this hoopla and badly needed mooula (from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), poverty groups might be looking enviously towards the green jobs initiatives.

But while green jobs have a lock on the title of “sexiest policy alive,” there also may be a real opportunity, by association, to make a poverty reduction agenda even sexier in leading policy circles. In particular, Van Jones, Director of Green for All, explicitly tied together urban poverty and green jobs a speech that had the cheering crowd on their feet. Check out what the White House blogger had to say about Jones۪ comments:

“Van۪s message is about providing opportunity and hope, and the moral responsibility to make sure this green wave is one that lifts all boats — a green economy that MLK would be proud of.” The way to do that, he says, is to make sure green jobs crop up not just in rural and suburban areas, but in urban areas, too. To great applause: There is a moral principle to green the ghetto first … to give young people the chance to put down that handgun and pick up a caulking gun.۪”

In the months ahead, we can expect a robust debate to continue in the task force as to who they۪re targeting with “middle class” policies. A Washington Post article picked up on this question, calling Obama۪s appeal to the middle class a throw-back to Clinton era politics. The Post piece described this as a “safe” political frame, but noted that there is an element of threading the needle at work here given criticism from both the left and right of policies that include the middle class.

We here at OOTS welcome this debate, because it will keep low-income Americans on the radar. And if folks like Van Jones keep the pressure on, maybe we will soon see community leaders just as eager to claim the mantle of first city to truly provide “Opportunity to All.” 

Posted by Shelley


Here at “Out of the Spotlight” we love rumors and gossip (at least of the non-malicious type), so if you hear names that you think we should pay attention to, drop us a line at either or۪ll post new names as we get em! Of course, OOTS dishes on much more than who might be on the dream team. Check out “Out of the Spotlight” for our take on behind-the-scenes policy sparring, the twists and turns of political plans, and more. Contributions welcome!

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