OLD PROBLEM: Just as President Barack Obama is pushing new initiatives on gun control and immigration, the sluggish economy is elbowing its way back in. Consumer confidence is falling, the economy is contracting and large automatic spending cuts loom, with uncertain consequences.
BIG ISSUES: Even the perception of an economic setback could weaken Obama's clout as he tries to put his imprint on immigration and gun violence.
JOBS REPORT: The January unemployment report is due Friday. The rate is expected to stay at the still-high 7.8 percent. Employment is critical to consumer confidence.