Obama to Unveil Symbolic Support for Young Workers. They Symbolically Thank Him.


Younger workers struggling to live independently from their parents will be targeted for extra support by Barack Obama in new budget proposals that extend the president’s inequality drive to the so-called ‘lost generation’.

Though likely to become quickly mired in Washington’s now-traditional budget deadlock, the proposed extension of benefits to childless workers, including those under 25, is a centrepiece of the 2015 budget unveiled on Tuesday and marks a departure from the usual focus on help for families.

Officials said their suggested expansion of the so-called Earned Income Tax Credits would add 3.3 million people between ages 21 and 24 to the programme and lift an extra half million childless adults above the official poverty line.

“Current age restrictions prevent workers younger than 25 from claiming the childless worker EITC, excluding young workers living independently from their parents from its pro-work effects,” said a White House report.

“This represents an important missed opportunity. For individuals at this formative stage of life, encouraging employment and on-the-job experience could help establish patterns of labor force attachment that would persist throughout their working lives.”

The president’s $4tn budget is seen as even more symbolic than usual this year after it dropped a proposed trim in welfare inflation for retired workers that was previously designed to act as compromise gesture for fiscally conservative Republicans.

But even though Congress is unlikely to take up the budget, several of its measures do still chime with ideas under consideration by the House of Representatives and may help shape the growing bipartisan debate on income equality.

Obama, for example, targets the same “carried income” loopholes used by private equity partners and other high earners on Wall Street that were the subject of tax reform proposals last week by Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican who chairs the House ways and means committee.

Budget committee chairman Paul Ryan is also thought to be drawing up benefit reforms to improve incentives to find work in his proposals for federal spending in 2015, although these are likely to take the form of cuts rather than extensions of existing programmes.

At a launch event on Tuesday morning, officials claim Obama “will show how to achieve real, lasting economic security and expand opportunity for all so that every American who is willing to work hard can get ahead.”

“The president’s budget will show in real terms the choices we can make to expand economic opportunity and strengthen the middle class, like closing unfair tax loopholes so we can invest in the things we need to help the middle class and those striving to get into it, grow our economy, and provide economic opportunity for every American,” said a White House statement.

“It invests in infrastructure, job training, and preschool; cuts taxes for working Americans while closing tax loopholes enjoyed by the wealthy and well-connected; and reduces the deficit.”

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