Previewing a theme that is sure to dominate his State of the Union address this week, Mr. Obama unveiled a package of modest initiatives intended to help families pay for child care, save for retirement, pay off student loans and care for elderly parents.
“None of these steps alone will solve all of the problems facing the middle class,” Mr. Obama said, appearing alongside Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who leads the task force that produced the proposals. “But hopefully some of these steps will re-establish some of the security that has slipped away in recent years. Because in the end, that’s how Joe and I measure progress — not how the markets are doing, but how the American people are doing.”
Addressing advisers who developed the plans, Mr. Obama tried to frame them as part of his efforts to build what he calls “a new foundation” for the American economy and took credit for creating or saving two million jobs since taking office through his stimulus spending and tax cut program. But he acknowledged that seven million jobs had been lost, which he called “an epidemic that demands our relentless and sustained response.”