Food and energy prices are rising, wages are flat and the top concern among Americans is unemployment. What was that word coined in the '70s to describe a stagnant economy suffering inflationary pressures?
Since the Obama "recovery" started 4-1/2 years ago, inflation appears to have been relatively tame, with core prices climbing just 7% from June 2009 to December 2013.
But as CBS News discovered when it looked a little closer, the overall number is deceptive. In fact, it found food prices soaring.
The official inflation data confirm this. Overall, food prices are up 9% since June 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the cost of many staples is skyrocketing. Pork prices have climbed 14%; poultry is up 12%; eggs, 27%; milk, 20%.
Meanwhile, energy prices have climbed 18% during the recovery, and the price of gasoline is up a whopping 31.5%. Then there's college tuition, up 23%.
At the same time, wages aren't budging. In fact, measured in real terms, the median household income is 4% below where it was four-1/2 years ago. And while the official unemployment rate is down, that's due to millions quitting the workforce altogether.
Yes, the economy has created 6.6 million jobs since June 2009. But the ranks of those not in the labor force climbed nearly 11 million, driving the labor force participation rate down from 65.7% to today's 63% — a level not seen since 1978.
In fact, had the participation rate remained where it was, we'd have an unemployment rate of over 10%. So it's no wonder the IBD/TIPP Poll continues to find nearly a quarter of U.S. households reporting that someone at home is looking for a job.
Or that, as the latest Gallup poll finds, the public lists unemployment/jobs as the nation's top problem (23% listed that), with the economy coming in a close second at 20%. Immigration legislation, by the way, ranks far down the list at 6%, and the alleged issue of global warming, the fixation of the Obama administration, doesn't rank at all.
Meanwhile, Obama seems bent on doing all he can to strangle the economy, raise prices and kill jobs.
He's driven the national debt to World War II levels. His regulators are on a tear, adding the equivalent of one regulation every three hours, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Volumes of rules still need to be written to implement Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare. And the Environmental Protection Agency is threatening rules that will kill the coal industry and drive electricity prices still higher.
Rather than encourage private investment and risk-taking, Obama raised taxes on investment income and has done nothing to simplify the tax code, for individuals or businesses.
Even the president himself tacitly admits that ObamaCare's regulations and mandates will hurt businesses. Why else would he keep putting off the employer mandate?
The Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, figures that ObamaCare's work disincentives will drive what amounts to 2.5 million full-time workers out of the labor force over the next decade.
And Obama's proposed minimum-wage hike would kill half a million jobs in 2016, according to a CBO report out this week (see the nearby editorial), while raising the cost of doing business.
We saw all this in the 1970s, when growth-choking regulations, big spending, high taxes and easy money fueled stagflation. If we see a repeat now, the blame rests squarely with Obama's economic policies.