Grade: F

"President Obama failed to get a deal on the fiscal cliff. House Speaker John A. Boehner failed to get a majority of his caucus in the House. The system failed to work and has failed the American people again.

"Both sides agree that failing to get a deal and falling off the cliff will threaten a new recession (at a time when economic growth is ticking upward) and jeopardize the U.S. bond rating. Both sides are playing at brinkmanship at a time when the American people are looking for a deal.

"There is now a week to go, and this is not funny. In terms of the politics on this issue, the consensus is that the Republicans will be blamed for the lack of a deal. The polls are clear on that one. There is now talk about a short-term Band-Aid, then a bigger deal later on. But this was supposed to be the big deal later on. It is getting too late to be later on.

"The president has to force the issue with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: pass legislation that offers tax cuts to those earning less than (let's say) $700,000. There were plenty of Republicans in the House willing to accept the Plan B target of $1 million. Then follow with a serious proposal to cut entitlements.

"Meanwhile, the speaker has to call Congress back and give them a statesman like scolding that begins with 'This is America and elections matter. We lost.' The president has political capital from his re-election with more than 50 percent of the vote. This is not the week to start to losing it."