Flash back three years: the nation was losing three quarters of a million jobs every month. We'd just spent billions to bail out Wall Street and the auto industry, and a brand new President convinced Congress to spend billions more.
The stimulus: 787 billion for tax breaks, unemployment checks, and so called "shovel-ready" projects to create jobs.
Democrats called it our only hope.
Republicans said it would never work.
"Our economy is getting stronger. The recovery is accelerating. America is coming back." President Barack Obama
There is no shortage of critics on the campaign trail. "This President is not going to get credit for this economy coming back -- he's gonna get blamed for taking so long." Mitt Romney/ (R) Presidential Candidate
"The money goes to Washington, but it never gets distributed fairly." Ron Paul/ (R) Presidential Candidate
"This President is not interested, in my opinion, in providing jobs -- he's interested in providing benefits." Rick Santorum/ (R) Presidential Candidate
Unemployment then 8.1% - a 25-year high. Today - 8.3% and falling. Jobs lost in February 09 ? 651,000. Jobs created this past month: 243,000. Economic growth: down almost 7% then.
Today - two-and-a-half straight years of growth. "If the economy keeps moving forward over the next three or four months, it's going to be very tough to beat Mr. Obama." Prof. Peter Morici/ Economist, Univ. of Md.
But there are challenges. The nation's debt is at an all-time high -- 15 trillion and counting, and 12 million Americans remain unemployed.