A train approaches a cliff. But what day will it go over?

Speaker of the House John Boehner (L) speaks at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., October 8, 2013, following a press conference by U.S. President Barack Obama (R) at the White House as the crisis over a U.S. government shutdown and debt ceiling standoff deepens on the 8th day of the shutdown.

On this, the eighth day of the government shutdown, we degenerated into the land of dueling press conferences. President Obama went first, and he repeated something he has said before: that he is willing to negotiate with Republicans after the shutdown ends and when there is no longer a threat of a default.

A reporter asked the president if his administration had any “emergency powers” left, to use if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling, and President Obama said that there aren’t “a bunch of other rabbits in our hat.”

“A lot of the strategies that people have talked about -- well, the president can roll out a big coin and -- or you know, he can -- he can resort to some other constitutional measure -- what people ignore is that ultimately what matters is, what do the people who are buying Treasury bills think?” he said.

There is an argument that the president has the power to mint a platinum coin, worth a trillion dollars, which he could deposit at the Federal Reserve to cover our bills.

Boehner, for his part, gave no indication he would be willing to raise the debt ceiling without concessions from the president and Democratic lawmakers.

The clock is ticking down -- on CNN there is already a countdown clock, ticking down the seconds -- to Oct. 17, the date on which Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says the U.S. will no longer be able to pay its bills. That is known as the “X-Date.”

There are people outside of government -- at banks and at think tanks, who say they have looked at the data that are available and think we may hit the debt ceiling after Oct. 17, depending on what bills we have to pay and how much the government has collected in taxes.

We knew that as of midnight last Monday, there would be no more funding to keep the government up and running. With the debt ceiling, it is a different kind of deadline.

About the author

David Gura is a senior reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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