Over the last few decades, middle-class security had been slipping away for millions of families. Wages stagnated while health care costs soared. Fewer employers offered retirement and health benefits. College tuition costs skyrocketed. And then the Wall Street meltdown and housing market crash cost 8.8 million jobs and sent the economy into a deep recession. In January 2009 – just as the President took office – more than 700,000 Americans lost their jobs.
From day one, President Obama took immediate action to address the crisis and began laying the foundation for a job-creating economy that’s built to last. President Obama’s recovery program supported as many as 3.5 million jobs by cutting taxes; investing in clean energy, roads and bridges; keeping teachers in the classroom; and protecting unemployment benefits. The private sector has now created nearly 3 million jobs during 21 straight months of private-sector growth – but our work is not done. His proposed American Jobs Act would put even more people back to work now and put even more money in people’s pockets, but Washington Republicans are blocking it.
As we recover from the greatest economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression, President Obama is fighting to restore the basic values of balance and fairness that made our country great. We are now at a make-or-break moment for the middle class.
The President believes Americans should be able to earn enough to raise a family, send their kids to school, own a home and put enough away to retire. That can only happen when hard work pays off, responsibility is rewarded, and when everybody plays by the same rules, does their fair share and has a fair shot at success. To create true middle-class security, we can’t just cut our way to prosperity, as some have suggested. An economy that creates the jobs of the future and exports goods stamped “Made in America” will not come by outsourcing, but by out-educating, out-innovating and out-building the world.