Having spent a grand total of 72 hours in Washington, D.C., I cannot claim to have surveyed the entire landscape here. But privately — and whenever you read someone write that, it means that the conversation was informal enough so that the journalist won't burn the source without the source having asked — here's what a bunch of smart people on the Hill think is going to happen.

1. There will be lots of loud noise this week.

2. There will be a last minute Senate effort; it will fail because the House can't support it.

3. There will be a rearguard bipartisan move of House freshman to force something through. Won't work.

4. The sequester happens. The noose tightens.

5. Three days later, agency heads will formally specify what they will be cutting. GOPers in the House will see this as a blueprint for cutting non-essential services. They will then work to strike a deal of some sort. This may take a while. People begin to lose their jobs in late March. 

On March 27, the continuing resolution that funds the government — all of it, runs out. 

6. If that does not happen, public pressure will force one side to again to propose a Grand Bargain. The "other side" may be open to this. The Senate will probably go first. Alternatively, a shorter temporary CR or stay of execution might pass the House. 

My gut tells me it will take about four weeks post-sequester for something to break free. 

In any event, America will still be a back alley: So many cans have been kicked.