Here are some of the stories we’re taking a close look at this morning:
Doubling Down: House Republicans are planning not just one but two strategies to exact spending cuts from the Obama administration — and neither strategy is healthy for the nation or the economy: A government shutdown or a default by not raising the debt limit. Both would devastate the economic recovery and prove that Republicans have one agenda: to hold the health of the nation hostage in order to get what they want.
Colin Powell criticizes what he calls the Republican party’s “dark vein of intolerance”, saying the GOP looks down on minorities and attacks President Obama because of his race.
Immigration Reform: The Obama administration is vowing comprehensive reform on immigration, something neither side has thus far been willing or able to achieve. It would be a big step and a major legislative achievement if the president could get it done, and he’ll likely use his State of the Union address on Feb. 12 to unveil his plan.
The gun debate: Both sides agree — would-be gun buyers who lie during background checks should be punished. The New York Times reports that 80,000 people were denied gun permits for lying on background checks, but only 44 were prosecuted.
A crucial test for Hagel: President Obama’s pick for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel faces a big test this week when he meets with Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York. Schumer, an ardent supporter of Israel, would provide cover for a lot of pro-Israel senators should he come out in favor of Hagel’s nomination.
Finally, leave it to Donald Trump to theorize about Jack Lew’s loopy signature.