— President Barack Obama plans to talk about helping struggling families make their way into the middle class during a trip to the Chicago area Friday, when he also will touch on the wide-ranging approach he thinks the country should take to fighting gun violence.
The president's remarks will be devoted to the "ladders of opportunity" he thinks will help working families, like raising the federal minimum wage and investing in education, a senior administration official said Tuesday.
He'll also talk directly about gun violence, aides say, in a visit that comes just days after the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago teenager killed in a shooting about a mile from the Obamas' South Side home. After attending services for Pendleton, first lady Michelle Obama invited her parents to join her in the balcony for the president's State of the Union address Tuesday night.
But the president's emphasis this week is on promoting job creation and economic recovery, aides say, in the belief that solutions to violence and other social problems hang in the balance. He and Vice President Joe Biden have argued in recent weeks that the solution to gun violence isn't just about gun control but also about improving access to educational opportunities, social programs and mental health services.
To clear these pathways to the middle class, Obama on Tuesday night proposed creating "promise zones" in 20 struggling communities, helping them develop plans and leverage federal resources to increase economic activity. He also proposes an initiative to support summer and year-round jobs for low-income youths and to put long-term unemployed and low-income adults back to work.