President Obama dialed in on his goals for improving the quality of life for middle-class Americans during his address Friday at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis.
Referring to what he calls middle-class economics, the president said he wants to ensure Americans have the ability to find high-paying, skills-based employment.
“Are we going to be a nation where a few of us do spectacularly well, or where everybody has opportunity?” he asked, adding that his number one priority was “to make sure people’s wages and income are going up.”
The president focused on his recent budget proposal to make two years of community college free. Students would need to maintain a 2.5 grade point average to be eligible.
Obama said he believes a free community college education will give Americans the quality skills they need for a changing workforce without burdening them with thousands of dollars in student debt.
“We’re not just working to make our community colleges free,” the president said. “We want to make them better and more responsive.”
The president said he wants to see expanded apprenticeship opportunities, which, on average, provide a $50,000 starting salary. And Obama said, after feedback, the federal government will not eliminate the tax breaks on the 529 college savings plan.
Instead, the federal government would fund his proposal for two free years of community college through other means, such as eliminating certain tax loopholes that he says don’t benefit the majority of Americans.
The president said investing in better Internet, roads and research are also pivotal to bettering life for the middle class.
This story will be updated.