Stock illustration: American political groups divided between conservative and liberal ideas. Credit: freshidea/Adobe Stock

The hard part about playing 'chicken' is knowing when to flinch.

So says Captain Bart Mancuso in the movie The Hunt for Red October—and observers of the U.S. debt-ceiling debate are seeing what he means. This game of chicken is playing out in real time in Washington, with varying degrees of posturing and hard lines being drawn (in pencil) that are giving credence to the possibility that the nation may soon face a real debt-ceiling debacle.

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