NEW YORK -- Following the announcement of President Obama's new blueprint for a financial recovery and long term stability in the economy, Tamara Draut, Vice President for Policy and Programs at the public policy center Demos, released the following statement:
"The President's proposed budget outlines a bold blueprint for turning around a generation of decline in key areas important to young people's ability to work or educate their way into the middle class.
"And to do that, the President very clearly underscores the role that higher education and training plays in opening the door to future opportunity and a stable middle class life. He offers several bold and necessary shifts in federal financial aid to make it more accessible for lower income students and to ensure they succeed, in particular:
1. The blueprint strengthens the Pell Grant Program by increasing the maximum amount, and more importantly makes in a mandated program and indexes it to inflation.
2. The proposed budgets eliminates billions in subsidies to private lenders by providing all federal student loans through the Direct Loan Program (DLP) which provides direct financing to student borrowers. The savings would be channeled back into additional aid for students.
3. Prioritizing increased enrollment of low-income students and helping those at risk of not enrolling or graduating due to financial concern by establishing a new 5-year Access and Completion Initiative.
4. Making permanent the $2500 New American Opportunity Tax Credit for middle class families.
5. It expands on workforce development programs for disadvantaged young people to give them the skills they need to succeed in our economy.
"The President's budget also addresses core issues critical to helping ensure today's generation of young people have a real shot at the middle class. His proposal would establish automatic workplace pensions-benefits most young workers don't currently get from their jobs--and also greatly modernizes our unemployment insurance system to match the reality of workers' increased mobility in patterns of employment. And it builds toward the promise of universal health care--providing new hope for the 19 million young adults who are currently uninsured.
"And finally, the President's budget recognizes the long neglected need to build a high-quality early childhood ‘Zero to Five’ system that would help young families afford top-notch care and help ensure all of our nation's youngest members get the strongest possible start in life.
"The President's plan is nothing short of the beginnings of a desperately needed new social contract to help ensure today's generation of young people can fulfill their aspirations and make good on the American dream of economic mobility."
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