Step one, everyone assumes it will be approved after some griping. That's what happened the other 74 times, after all. Obama demands a clean extension with no extraneous budget matters. Step two, republicans become aware of the leverage they have and decide to apply it to get a handle of soaring expenditures. Biden begins talks with republicans. Nothing concrete ever emerges, except vague talk about cutting $1 or 2 trillion. Talks founder on republican refusal to agree to tax increases. Step three, republicans push their advantage, demanding bigger cuts. Obama gets involved, attacking republicans for favoring corporate jet owners over needy seniors and children. Obama demands "shared sacrifice", interpreted to mean he wants to not only cut republicans' social security and medicare(ie, by "means testing") but also sharply increase taxes on them. His constituents escape any cuts, even though they are the cause of the soaring debt. Republicans get cold feet about any deal. Step four, Obama plays to media with call for "grand bargain." Other than increased taxes, he is opaque on what he would actually cut or how he would guarantee that the promised cuts ever get made. Boehner goes wobbly under media pressure, but Cantor jerks him back into line. Pundits being to appreciate the influence of the Bachmann chorus of Tea Party freshman and decific hawks. Actual doubts about a deal are aired to disapproving hisses from mainstream media. Step four(present), growing sense of panic begins to emerge. Rating agencies begin to grumble. Liberals are furious at Tea Party recalcitrants and attack them viciously on Sunday morning shows. Journalists who hate everything republican generously offer suggestions as to how republicans can compromise and sell out their base or face disaster. Step five, end game. Gold soars. Bonds swing violently. Dollar soars, sells off, soars again. Furious debate ensues as to whether a failure to raise ceiling is good or bad for US credit rating. Good, in that spending is finally crimped. Bad, in that it looks like a default. House passes cap, cut and balance bill. It goes nowhere in senate. Senate passes McConnell plan. It goes nowhere in House. Obama goes on TV repeatedly to attack republicans in ever more demagogic terms. Bachmann demands no compromise. Romney is MIA. Step six, someone blinks. Probably some sort of smaller extension with no tax increases and smoke and mirrors spending cuts. Things go back to normal for another six months.