For three years, under presidents of both parties, the federal government has pumped trillions of borrowed dollars into stimulus, bailout, and recovery spending.
The results have been woeful: Two years after the recession formally ended, the country is mired in a bleak economic lassitude from which it seems unable to rouse itself.
Now the wretched news of recent weeks -- feeble GDP growth; painful foreclosure rates; slipping car sales; a drop in factory orders; ever more Americans on food stamps -- has grown even worse.
First, Standard & Poor's reported that home prices have fallen to their lowest level in more than two years, confirming a "double dip" in a housing collapse more severe than the one during the Great Depression. Then came the government's latest employment numbers: only 54,000 jobs added in May, the fewest in eight months, and a rise in the unemployment rate to 9.1 percent. This has been the lousiest recovery in more than 60 years, and by a wide margin.
Last week, speaking at the Chrysler plant in Toldeo where the Jeep Wrangler is produced, President Obama tried to put a brave face on things. "There are always going to be bumps on the road to recovery," he said. "We're going to pass through some rough terrain that even a Wrangler would have a tough time with." The audience booed. If that's the reaction Obama's keep-your-chin-up rhetoric gets from a friendly union crowd, how will it play with the rest of the country?