That there would even be such a task force is a testament to how far the pendulum is swinging from the Reagan/Clinton/Bush economic policies that undermined American industries and the American worker for 30 years. Tim Fernholz though draws our attention to what this may mean for upcoming legislative battles (ie. EFCA),
Did the VP just become labor czar? And if you were going to pick someone to find 60 votes for EFCA in the Senate, wouldn't you want that person to be Joe Biden? On the other hand, throwing a task force at an intractable problem is certainly a play we've seen before here in Washington -- at least it's not a blue ribbon commission. But Biden has been vehement since the campaign that he expects to be doing substantive work for the new administration, and his hiring of Jared Bernstein as his Chief Economic Adviser certainly presaged this move; given the crowded field of foreign policymakers in the Obama administration, Biden is putting himself in the position to exert a lot of pressure on policies that are good for labor.
In the release, Biden says that “Our charge is to look at existing and future policies across the board and use a yard stick to measure how they are impacting the working and middle-class families: Is the number of these families growing? Are they prospering? President-elect Obama and I know the economic health of working families has eroded, and we intend to turn that around.” That statement echoes something Anna Burger, Chair of the Change to Win Coalition, told me the other week: the Bush administration looked at policymaking through a screen that emphasized business interests, and that to rebuild the middle class, the next administration needs to look through a screen that emphasizes the needs of workers.
I think those pundits and observers who don't expect much movement from Obama on EFCA and labor issues are in for a bit of a shock. He's given plenty of indications since being elected that he intends to fulfill his campaign promises on this front.