The challenges facing our economy are like nothing that our nation has faced since the Great Depression. In the last year, Americans have lost millions of jobs, dramatically increasing our national unemployment rate. The ongoing downturn in the housing market has resulted in a tidal wave of foreclosures and delinquencies, flooding our communities with hundreds of thousands of blighted, boarded up homes. Americans have witnessed the value of their homes, stocks, and pensions drop. College education has become unaffordable for too many, and affordable healthcare is available to too few.
In response to this crisis, the Obama Administration, working with Congress, has laid out a path forward for our economic recovery. This includes spurring meaningful job creation, fixing our nation's banking system, and building a new financial regulatory framework so the mistakes of the past are not repeated. It also means fixing our weakened housing market and stemming the tide of foreclosures across the country.
The Path Forward -- The American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is the first step in our recovery. I worked with my colleagues in the Senate to make sure that this stimulus package was timey, targeted, and temporary and to ensure that its investments and tax incentives were focused on creating jobs now and on producing real economic improvement soon.
The recovery legislation is expected to create an estimated 3.5 million jobs, including 11,000 in Delaware, by putting Americans to work to begin rebuilding our nation's crumbling infrastructure, including roads, bridges, ports, railways, waterways, water systems, electric grid upgrades, and mass transit.
In addition, this legislation provides energy tax incentives for the manufacturing and production of wind, biofuels and other renewable sources of energy that are crucial to creating green jobs and making Delaware's offshore wind farm competitive. These investments will not only reduce our energy costs and clean our nation's air, but will also make America more energy independent. Finally, the bill included tax cuts for more than 95 percent of American working families - up to $400 for individuals and $800 for married couples.
In early 2009, President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner laid out a new course for our financial rescue called the Financial Stability Plan. The plan provides the oversight, accountability and transparency that was missing from the previous administration's financial rescue package, commonly called TARP. The Financial Stability Plan, which is still a work in progress, can be tracked online, so that all taxpayers can monitor the progress of our financial rescue.
Making Home Affordable -- The Making Home Affordable program, unveiled on March 4, 2009, is the most comprehensive effort to date to address the prolonged contraction in our housing market and to stanch foreclosures across the United States. The Making Home Affordable program allows homeowners who played by the rules access to more affordable fixed rate loans, while providing financial incentives for servicers and borrowers to modify mortgages to avoid foreclosure.
Finally, in the long term, once the economy recovers, it is crucial that we put our country back on the path to fiscal responsibility and budget surpluses. The federal government has been running deficits for the past eight years, which has added to the national debt. If deficits are allowed to persist once the economy gets back on track, the additional debt burden will lead to slower economic growth and lower living standards for future generations. The President and Congress will look at a range of solutions, including reforms to our tax policies and spending decisions, to bring deficits under control.
The economic crisis that we're witnessing at this time is the worst that I've seen in my lifetime. I do not want to pass this economic crisis onto our children and to their generation. Our recovery will require hard work and some sacrifice, but if we work smart, think outside of the box and don't give up, we will survive this crisis and eventually come back stronger than ever.