It is a familiar campaign theme.

Washington is broke and if you elect me to Congress I will change things.

Our guess is every member of Congress has made this or a similar declaration on the stump at one time or another.

But nothing really changes.

Our government lurches from one fiscal crisis to another and victories are measured on whether it is able to stall for more time by punting the problem down the road.

It is the new modus operandi in Washington.

We are on the brink of another self-manufactured fiscal crisis. On Friday painful, across-the-board mandatory spending cuts worth $1.2 trillion over 10 years are set to kick in through a process known as sequestration.

They were part of the automatic cuts both parties agreed to back in 2011 to force themselves to do what voters and business leaders want them to do which is make a long-term deal on spending reductions.

The steep cuts were never really intended to take place because of the harm they could cause the still weak economy and the defense department.

They were supposed to be a deterrent to force Congress to act before the sequestration was triggered.

Of course, that never happened.

Now both sides are pointing fingers at each other for the lack of a deal to avoid the draconian cuts which could cost anywhere from 1 million to 2.4 million jobs not to mention numerous other cuts in services and programs.

Republicans and Democrats agree that there is a better, more responsible way to achieve the reductions. But that would take leadership and compromise on the part of Congress and the president.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow called it an example of “feeble government at its most ineffective and self-destructive.”

The sequestration dilemma begs the question: When will our elected leaders start putting the country first, take responsibility for the situation and do their job?