Debt ceiling debate: No easy path to avoid chaos:  “The White House and Congress are facing three critical deadlines — the country hits its debt limit as early as mid-February, $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts take effect March 2, and the government runs out of money to fund operations later that month. There is no real optimism among Republicans and Democrats that the standoff will end quickly, or painlessly. The strategy of each party rests largely on the other one folding.” (Politico)

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

The overrated debt ceiling: “Sometime in the next 30 to 60 days the federal government will reach the legal limit on its ability to borrow, setting up the next potential budget crisis in Washington. The debt is currently $16.4 trillion, technically in excess of the statutory limit, and the Treasury Department has been using “extraordinary measures,” such as delaying payments to federal retirement programs, in order to push back the final day of reckoning. But Treasury’s ability to push off the deadline is almost spent, and unless Congress authorizes an increase in the debt limit, we will face yet another financial cliff. With Republicans in Congress calling for spending reductions as the price for increasing the debt limit, and President Obama insisting that he will not negotiate on the issue, we may soon be looking back on the fiscal-cliff deal as a model of relative comity,” writes Cato’s Michael Tanner. (National Review)

Annotating Obama’s 2006 speech against boosting the debt limit. (Washington Post)

Biden: White House eying 19 executive actions on guns: “The White House has identified 19 executive actions for President Barack Obama to move unilaterally on gun control, Vice President Joe Biden told a group of House Democrats on Monday, the administration’s first definitive statements about its response to last month’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.” (Politico)

Republican Congressman threatens to impeach President Obama over gun safety measures. (ThinkProgress)

No Labels? No Thanks: “Fiscal cliffs, “nuclear options,” trillion-dollar platinum coins — in this late stage of our imperial decline, we seem to be drowning in apocalyptic metaphors and loopy policy gimmicks. Who among us can disagree with the sentiment articulated by hip-hop star Akon in his “No Labels Anthem”: “We may not understand this whole process and how things go/I’m just an ordinary man tryna live free and God knows”?” asks Cato’s Gene Healy. (Washington Examiner)