In fairness, he gave the only answer he could realistically give. There’s no way he’s going to cop to the possibility of a new recession with the public — not to mention his campaign team — already in a panic about the deterioration in jobs growth and other economic indicators. So he gave the hopeful response, knowing, no doubt, that if he’s proved wrong, this will become one of the most infamous soundbites of his reelection bid.

Then again, if we end up double-dipping, there won’t be much of a reelection bid anyway. Robert Reich:

Together with plummeting housing prices, falling wages for non-supervisory workers, a paltry 1.8 percent growth in the first quarter, and a precipitous drop in consumer confidence, the picture should be clear to anyone able to see clearly.

The recovery has stalled.

We’re not in a double dip yet, but the odds are increasing…

The President cannot be reelected if the economy tanks. He may not even be reelected on an anemic recovery in which unemployment remains nearly this high. But all incumbents are endangered. Republican House members from swing districts are toast if they don’t show voters they’re actively working on the twin problems of jobs and wages.

Really? After two years of economic misery during a period of solid Democratic rule in 2009-10, amid endless Republican talking points about the failed stimulus and “Obama’s economy,” swing voters are going to turn around during a presidential election campaign and … split their ballots to apportion blame to congressional GOP incumbents? From what I remember, that’s not how things worked out vis-a-vis the financial crisis in 2008 even though Democrats had controlled Congress for almost two years when it struck. That election was framed as a contrast between Bush’s failings and the promise of Hopenchange, and Democrats benefited across the board. This time, it’s Obama’s failings that’ll be front and center. Like it or not, as Charlie Cook points out, Reich’s party owns this issue — which of course is why they’re so eager to talk about Medicare. “Boehner deserves some blame too!” won’t save them with Obama at the top of the ballot, especially when the Senate is also controlled by Democrats. But “Paul Ryan wants to kill grandma” might.

Exit question: Has the double dip already begun? Click the image to watch.