Debate over Obama administration middle class initiatives

By Chuck Weber

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX)-As part of President Obama's first State of the Union address tomorrow night, he'll talk about helping the middle class. His proposals are already the topic of lively debate.

President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden have announced a set of initiatives designed to give a life to the middle class. They include increasing the child care tax credit, adding to child care programs for working parents, offering more help to those who care for aging relatives, limiting the amount of student loan payments, and establishing automatic Individual Retirement Accounts for workers who don't currently have retirement plans.

The President says cuts to other programs will pay for the middle class initiatives. Critics object, because of the growing deficit.

For instance in the child care tax credit proposal, families earning less than $85,000 would see the credit almost double. The credit would also increase for families making less than $115,000.

"They have a lot of tough decisions to make," acknowledged Mike Gaffney, of Palm Beach Gardens. He's the father of a one-year old boy. While Gaffney is not ready for child care yet, that day is coming.

"Not cheap," said Gaffney. "In my situation, I feel (the tax credit increase) would definitely help me out."

"I don't fall into those income categories," observed Jennifer Fox, mother of three young children. "Yet I'm not wealthy at all. I would not get the tax credit, yet I would fund the tax credit. And I can't afford to do that."

"I think it's fantastic," said Evelyn May, pleased with the initiative to give more help to family caregivers like herself. May's husband has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and she regularly attends a group for care givers at Alzheimer's Community Care in West Palm Beach. "It is an illness that needs so much support," said May.

"Where exactly is he going to get the money to do all that?" asked George Lekkas, a Palm Beach Gardens contractor. He says he's never been an Obama supporter, and believes the stimulus program and bailouts have been wasted. "Create jobs," he said. "Help us out here."