Some would argue that this is actually a good thing:
Where Obama entered office four years ago planning to seize a moment of economic crisis as an opportunity for transformational policies such as the $800 billion stimulus and his health care overhaul, he begins his second four years with few, if any, similarly expansive or costly prospects.But isn't it a shroud largely of his own making?
Instead, any new spending programs will, by necessity, be small and narrow in scope: repairs to roads and bridges, airport renovations and other infrastructure upgrades, for example, or modest grants to help blighted city neighborhoods.
Allies expect Obama to harness the combined political capital of his reelection and the outcome of the tax fight for an aggressive push to legalize millions of illegal immigrants in what could be a signature domestic achievement.
But beyond that, the second-term agenda remains shrouded in uncertainty, with questions about whether he would pursue other politically charged issues such as climate change or voting rights.