That's the question roiling Washington as a partial government shutdown enters its second week while a possible U.S. default looms ahead.
Both Republicans and Democrats say they didn't want the shutdown, and they insist they don't want a default if they fail to raise the federal debt ceiling by Oct. 17.
But no formal talks are scheduled, and the two sides remain so deeply mired in their respective partisan postures that no way forward or even any hint of progress is evident.
We know for sure that the partisan shouting match pitting President Barack Obama and Democrats against conservative Republicans will continue this week while moderates on both sides work behind the scenes to try to forge some kind of compromise.
Beyond that it's anyone's guess.
Here are possible scenarios for what could happen in coming days to get Washington and the country out of this mess.
A GOP reversal
Confrontation over the debt ceiling was always the Republican strategy to wring more deficit reduction concessions from the White House and Democrats.
Then the tea party conservative wing in the House bullied House Speaker John Boehner to adopt a stance he previously opposed by linking the concurrent need to fund the government in the fiscal year that started Oct. 1 to their demands to dismantle Obama's signature health care law.
"I thought the fight would be over the debt ceiling," Boehner said Sunday on ABC. "But you know, working with my members, they decided, well, let's do it now. And the fact is, this fight was going to come, one way or the other."
Now, the quickest way out is for Boehner and Republicans to seek a tactical retreat on the shutdown by accepting the Senate's short-term spending plan that contains no anti-Obamacare provisions sought by the tea party wing.
Obama and Democrats insist that the Senate version would pass the House if Boehner allowed a vote, with enough Republicans joining a unanimous Democratic caucus to overcome conservative GOP opposition.
A CNN survey shows that 17 Republicans would vote with the 200 House Democrats to provide the bare majority needed to pass the Senate plan.
However, Boehner's stint as House speaker might not survive if he allowed that vote. There would be a conservative backlash. According to the CNN survey, not enough Republicans would join Democrats at this point in a procedural move to force Boehner to hold the vote.
That would only get the government reopened, leaving the debt ceiling question unresolved.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could file a proposal as soon as Tuesday to raise the debt ceiling without addressing any deficit reduction issues demanded by Republicans, a Senate Democratic leadership aide told CNN.
Sources told CNN that the Democratic plan would resolve the debt ceiling issue for at least a year, and perhaps through the 2014 congressional elections.
The move would be the first volley in what will be a torturous political struggle in coming days over the federal borrowing limit.
Most Republicans would shy away from any proposal that lacks spending cuts or other policy changes in return for the increased borrowing authority.
Democrats hope enough Republicans would vote with them to overcome a certain filibuster attempt in order to prevent what analysts warn would be potentially catastrophic economic repercussions of a government default.
If the Senate passed such a bill, pressure would increase on Boehner and House Republicans to do the same as the debt ceiling deadline approached.
However, Boehner continues to insist on concessions from Democrats before agreeing to raise the debt ceiling, while Obama continues to insist he won't negotiate partisan policy issues in connection with guaranteeing the full faith and credit of the United States.