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The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments fell more than forecast last week to the lowest level in five years, pointing to further improvement in the labor market.

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Maybe it was the lobster tails — or the sparkling wine. But for a few brief moments on Monday, President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans actually seemed to enjoy each other’s company over an elaborate three-course lunch in the Capitol’s opulent National Statuary Hall.

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Reiterating a threat he first issued in the summer of 2011, President Barack Obama on Monday warned Republicans that older Americans might not get their Social Security checks and veterans won’t get timely benefits if Congress fails to increase the government’s borrowing authority.

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The U.S. economy is expected to grow by 2.5 percent in 2013, improving to 3.5 percent growth in 2014, top Fed official Charles Evans said on Monday.

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In the summer of 2011, when a debt crisis like the current one loomed, President Barack Obama warned Republicans that older Americans might not get their Social Security checks unless there was a deal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit.

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President Barack Obama warned Congress on Monday that it must raise the debt ceiling or risk a “self-inflicted wound on the economy.” Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also delivered ominous calls for action.

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This fiscal cliff: averted.

Next fiscal cliff: ahead.

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“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned,” reads the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The upcoming fight to raise the national debt ceiling has again pushed the clause into the spotlight. Here is some important recent history on the issue:

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Want to make sure your calendar is clear when we hit the debt ceiling? Then don’t schedule anything between Feb. 15 and March 1.

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Every election year, they become the popular ones, the celebrities with the power to hire or fire politicians. Then, when actual governing begins, they become the forgotten ones – jilted wallflowers watching as the leaders they elected are devoured into a political system dominated by extremes.

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The eleventh-hour compromise that avoided the fiscal cliff cannot be repeated when it comes time to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, top lawmakers agreed Sunday.

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Now that the House has passed a Senate deal to avert the fiscal cliff, it will become law when President Obama signs it. He has returned to Hawaii to join his family on vacation.

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