Three years ago today, in his first major act in office, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It stirred a great debate. Some called it too big; others warned it was too meager. With just a handful of exceptions, Republicans maligned it as the absolute wrong approach to creating jobs. • Today, that argument is settled. The Recovery Act did what we asked of it. Three million jobs were created or saved. Essential investments in keeping teachers on the job, building a domestic clean energy industry, and repairing our roads and bridges have helped to foster the economic growth that we are now starting to see. The president is building an economy meant to last, and the Recovery Act is part of the foundation.
It's easy to forget how grave our problems were in February 2009. We had inherited an economy in free fall. Our own economists told us a depression was all but inevitable unless we took bold and immediate steps. Our country lost 3.5 million jobs in the six months before the president and I took office. We lost another 4 million before policies like the Recovery Act took effect.
Today, we have had 23 straight months of private sector growth. Businesses have added 3.7 million new jobs. Today, companies are not just expanding their U.S. operations — some are actually moving production from countries like China and Mexico back to American shores. And many more middle-class families see a much brighter future than the bleak horizon they faced when we arrived at the White House.
You see it right here in Tampa, where thousands of people are working on the Interstate 4 connector, a project that is only possible because of the Recovery Act. It will help companies create jobs in the future too, by easing access to the Port of Tampa for 10,000 trucks per day.
In Pinellas County, dozens of people are on the job building two new interchanges on U.S. 19, paid for by the Recovery Act.
And across the state, the Recovery Act helped to support 30,000 education jobs, such as teachers and other school staff. The president's new budget proposes further steps to keep teachers on the job, which would support more than 20,000 additional education jobs in Florida.
The Recovery Act, and investments like these, played a critical role turning our economy around. But the president and I are just getting started. We are determined to restore a basic middle-class bargain that has existed for generations: a bargain that says if American workers contribute to America's economic success, they are entitled to share in its benefits.
You have probably heard a lot about outsourcing jobs, but in the coming months you are going to hear a new word: insourcing. American companies bringing jobs back home from abroad.
A few weeks ago, the president and I hosted a meeting of business leaders from companies like DuPont, Ford Motor, Siemens, Master Lock and others. They had a basic message for us: Not only are they coming home, but they see a trend in the coming decades that could result in millions of new jobs for American workers. And our administration believes we should do everything in our power to hasten that move.
These companies talked about what they call the total cost of doing business. They talked about the need to look at business trends when they are building a factory and expect it to last 25 to 30 years. And they concluded that the future belongs to the United States.
And so have the president and I.
That is why we need a tax code that rewards companies for bringing jobs back to America instead of encouraging companies to ship jobs overseas. Our plan would scrap a tax deduction for companies when they close down a factory to ship jobs overseas, and redirect the money to cover moving expenses for companies that bring jobs back. And we are proposing to make sure companies that ship jobs overseas pay a new minimum tax on their overseas profits, instead of giving them a tax advantage over businesses that keep jobs here at home.
The Recovery Act was meant to give the economy the jolt it desperately needed. Three years later, it is clear that jolt got us pretty far down the road. We have a long way to go as we work to reinvigorate manufacturing and ultimately rebuild the middle class. The president and I will not stop — will not rest — until the millions of Americans who have struggled in recent years can look their children in the eye and say, "Honey, it's gonna be okay."
Joe Biden is vice president of the United States.