Future of Economy Riding on the Next Four Years

Even with a slow recovery, fiscal issues will be high-profile in Obama's second term.

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Crowds watch election night results in Times Square.

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All of which is to say that no matter what Obama promised on the campaign trail, he will invariably have to make some unexpected decisions.

"I really think that very seldom presidents get to have a four-year mandate based on what they would like to do," says Laurenti. "Reality always comes in with some curveballs."

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  • Danielle Kurtzleben is a business and economics reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at dkurtzleben@usnews.com.