At the White House, President Obama, alongside visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, took some questions about the economy. He might want to rethink lines such as this: “I’m not concerned about a double-dip recession.” (It may not be likely but he should be concerned, right?) And when he says, “Obviously, we’re experiencing some headwinds, gas prices probably being most prominent,” I can’t help but think the 9.1 percent unemployed consider this to be more than a “headwind.” It’s tricky, of course, to prevent panic in his party and in the markets. But neither is it helpful for him to sound so blasé (“what we try not to do is to look day to day at whatever is happening in the marketplace or whatever headlines are taking place and be reactive”). Now if there were signs that we really were on the right track, this would sound credible:

Our job is to set a course for the medium and the long term that assures that not only both our economies grow, but the world economy is stable and prosperous.

But what has he done? No free-trade deals; no debt deal; no entitlement reform plan; no tax reform proposal. You see the problem. If you want to assure the public and the markets that “that we’ve got a plan, a path forward in terms of how we make our economies competitive; making sure we’re dealing with the structural issues and the basic fundamentals that will allow us to grow and create a good, sound business environment,” you better have something to show for it. Obama doesn’t exactly have a lot he can point to beyond the lame-duck deal on the Bush tax cuts the Republicans forced him into last December.