The day before President Barack Obama delivershis State of the Union address, he outlined plans to help people struggling to pay bills and care for their families.
Here is what Long Islanders thought of Obama's economic plan for the middle class:
Boost child care tax credit
The proposal: Nearly double the tax credit that families making under $85,000 can receive for child care costs, with some help for families earning up to $115,000, too.
One reaction: "I feel it's not really helping most people," given the cost of living on Long Island. "I'm probably the norm on Long Island, where you need to make more than $115,000 to live." It would have been better to increase the cutoff to $160,000 to $175,000.
- Rick Rosa, 32, father of two and a certified public accountant in Woodbury, who makes just over the cutoff figure for a tax advantage.
Working family child care funds
The proposal: Add $1.6 billion in child care funding to provide subsidies for an additional 235,000 children from low-income working families.
One reaction: "We are very, very excited by this. . . . We haven't had an increase in over eight years. If you don't have child care, you can't work."
- Janet Walerstein, executive director of Child Care Council of Suffolk, Inc. in Commack, who said helping families afford child care would in turn help the local economy. She said it would help hundreds of Suffolk families on waiting lists.
Saving for retirement
The proposal: Requiring employers who don't offer 401(k) retirement plans to offer direct-deposit IRAs for their employees, with exemptions for the smallest firms.
One reaction: "I think that the existing plans are satisfactory and suitable and that the government should not be involved in operating a business or mandating a retirement system. The government has already provided several types of retirement plans and it's up to the individuals if they want to participate."
- Albert F. Coletti, president of The Design Capital Planning Group Inc. in Smithtown, a financial planning company.
TAX INCENTIVE FOR SAVING
The proposal: Saver's tax credit match of 50 percent of the first $1,000 that families earning up to $65,000 contribute to a retirement account, with a partial credit going to those earning up to $85,000.
One reaction: "I think it would be tremendously helpful. I don't think it's ever too early to start planning ahead for your future."
- Michael D. Hoffman, 32, office communications supervisor for SafeGuard Credit Counseling Services, Inc., Hauppauge, who invests in the stock market and is about to open an IRA.
Care for elderly relatives
The proposal: $102.5 million for programs that provide temporary respite care and transportation, adult day care and in-home aide services.
One reaction: "Sounds good. . . . If there was more access to in-home health aides, transportation," that would be helpful. "Or if you can show that you're financially assisting a parent and [receive] some kind of tax break or incentive, that would be helpful as well."
- Sharon Robinson-Clayton, 37, of Valley Stream, who is helping to support her mother, who is recovering from a stroke. In addition to paying bills for the skilled nursing facility, she also maintaining her mother's home.
STUDENT LOAN RELIEF
The proposal: Cap student loan payments to 10 percent of the student's income above a basic living allowance.
One reaction: "It sounds really nice, but I would have a lot of questions." For instance, "who determines how much I live on each month?" And if the payments are drawn out over a longer period, is there a cap on interest payments?