Hi, everybody. This week, I went down to an Amazon warehouse in Tennessee to talk more about what we need to do to secure a better bargain for the middle class -- to make sure that anyone who works hard can get ahead in the 21st century economy.
Over the past four and a half years, we've fought our way back from the worst recession of our lifetimes and begun to lay a foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth. Today, our businesses have created 7.3 million new jobs over the last 41 months. We now sell more products made in America to the rest of the world than ever before. Health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years, and our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years.
But as any middle-class family will tell you, we're not where we need to be yet. Even before the crisis hit, we were living through a decade where a few at the top were doing better and better, while most families were working harder and harder just to get by.
Reversing this trend must be Washington's highest priority. It's certainly mine. But too often over the past two years, Washington has taken its eye off the ball. They've allowed an endless parade of political posturing and phony scandals to distract from growing our economy and strengthening the middle class.
That's why I'm laying out my ideas for how we can build on the cornerstones of what it means to be middle class in America. A good education. A home of your own. Health care when you get sick. A secure retirement even if you're not rich. And the most important cornerstone of all: a good job in a durable, growing industry.
When it comes to creating more good jobs that pay decent wages, the problem is not a lack of ideas. Plenty of independent economists, business owners and people from both parties agree on what we have to do. I proposed many of these ideas two years ago in the American Jobs Act. And this week, I put forward common-sense proposals for how we can create more jobs in manufacturing; in wind, solar and natural gas; and by rebuilding America's infrastructure.
What we're lacking is action from Washington. And that's why, in addition to proposing ideas that we know will grow our economy, I've also put forward a strategy for breaking through the Washington logjam -- a "grand bargain" for the middle class.
I'm willing to work with Republicans to simplify our tax code for businesses large and small, but only if we take the money we save by transitioning to a simpler tax system and make a significant investment in creating good, middle-class jobs. We can put construction workers back on the job rebuilding our infrastructure. We can boost manufacturing, so more American companies can sell their products around the world. And we can help our community colleges arm our workers with the skills they need in a global economy -- all without adding a dime to the deficit.
I'll keep laying out my ideas to give the middle class a better shot in the 21st century, and I'll keep reaching out to Republicans for theirs. But gutting critical investments in our future and threatening national default on the bills that Congress has already racked up -- that's not an economic plan. Denying health care to millions of Americans, or shutting down the government just because I'm for keeping it open -- that won't help the middle class.
The truth is, there are no gimmicks when it comes to creating jobs. There are no tricks to grow the economy. Reversing the long erosion of middle-class security in this country won't be easy. But if we work together and take a few bold steps -- and if Washington is willing to set aside politics and focus on what really matters -- we can grow our economy and give the middle class a better bargain. And together, we can make this country a place where everyone who works hard can get ahead.
Thanks, and have a great weekend.