It's every cliché about repeated experience you can think of -- the myth of Sisyphus, déjà vu all over again, Groundhog Day.
The forced government spending cuts that take effect Friday are just a prelude for more political showdowns in coming months.
First will be the March 27 deadline for Congress to approve government funding for the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30.
Without such authorization through what legislators call a continuing resolution, the government will partially shut down.
So like Sisyphus and his stone or Phil Connors in Punxsutawney, the nation will again face the same political drama over spending and taxes less than four weeks from now.
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner made clear Friday that the coming deadline on the continuing resolution will be the next standoff.
"The president and leaders agreed legislation should be enacted this month to prevent a government shutdown while we continue to work on a solution to replace the" forced spending cuts, said a statement by Boehner's office.
Obama indicated he would sign a funding bill to avert a possible government shutdown on March 27 as long as it adhered to past funding agreements, even if that included the forced spending cuts.
"There's no reason why we should have another crisis by shutting the government down in addition to these arbitrary spending cuts," he said.
At issue is the same ideological divide over the size and role of government that dominated Obama's first term and appears certain to also dominate the second one.
Both sides acknowledge the need to reduce the nation's chronic federal deficits and debt, but they differ on the severity of the steps needed and how to make it happen.
Republicans led by Boehner seek to shrink government to reduce overall spending, especially on costly entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid that are main drivers of the deficits.
They contend that failing to bring down spending threatens the nation's economic stability and security in the near-term and especially in coming decades.
Democrats led by Obama want to preserve the social safety net of entitlements and insist on including more tax revenue --especially from the wealthiest Americans -- in any deficit reduction package.
Obama made such an approach a central campaign theme in winning re-election last year, arguing Republican proposals that focus on spending cuts alone would put most of the burden of deficit reduction on the middle class, the elderly, the poor and disabled.
A last-gasp effort to avoid the forced spending cuts taking effect Friday amounted to theatrical staging, with Obama and congressional leaders meeting for about 45 minutes at the White House after both sides insisted they wouldn't budge.
"There will be no last-minute, back-room deal and absolutely no agreement to increase taxes," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement issued before the talks.
For his part, Obama lamented that "none of this is necessary."
"It's happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made," he said. "They've allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit."
Breaking the cycle of partisan posturing will require the White House and Congress to open themselves to substantive negotiations, Republican Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia told CNN on Friday.
"There's just way too much bravado up here, too much from White House, too much from Congress. We've got to calm people down and have them starting talking to each other, instead of at each other."
Polls show the public is about as politically divided as its leaders. While most Americans support a deficit reduction plan that includes spending cuts and increased revenue, as well as entitlement reforms, there is little agreement on the formula for such a package.
In addition, a Pew Research Center poll last week showed that a majority of respondents opposed cuts to 18 of 19 specific areas, sending the message that people don't want deficit reduction to hurt them personally.
"The American people want the federal government to reduce spending without touching actual programs," wrote William Galston a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, in a blog post this week. "Is it any wonder that long-term budget cuts have stalled and that even short-term fiscal issues tie Congress up in knots?"
Part of the blame rests with political leaders in Congress and the White House failing to level with the American public about what it will take to "wrestle the federal budget back on a sustainable trajectory for the long term," Galston wrote.