L. D. Warren
During the early 1970s unemployment was near 5%, and the economy was nearing the point where wage demands would push prices higher. Even George Meany, president of the AFL-CIO, endorsed regulatory controls on wages and prices out of concern for the U.S. economy.
Coupled with low unemployment was the concern that the Vietnam War would end. The end of the war would mean a rise in unemployment: arms producers would have to lay off employees, while soldiers returning from service would be looking for jobs. This would cause a sharp rise in unemployment and cause more uncertainty in the economy. In early 1971, the inflation rate was only about 3.6%, but economic pressures were starting to push that number up, and there were concerns about inflation growing at a faster pace.
Warren suggests that with low unemployment (the caricature of the undersized arms) and rising inflation (the bloated abdomen), the national economy in 1971 was not a pretty sight.