Leaving behind a year of bruising legislative battles, President Barack Obama enters his fourth year in office having calculated that he no longer needs Congress to promote his agenda and may even benefit in his re-election campaign if lawmakers accomplish little in 2012.
Absent any major policy pushes, much of the year will focus on winning a second term. The president will keep up a robust domestic travel schedule and aggressive campaign fundraising and use executive action to try to boost the economy.
Partisan, down-to-the-wire fights over allowing the nation to take on more debt and sharply reducing government spending defined 2011. In the new year, there are almost no must-do pieces of legislation facing the president and Congress.