“We’re seeing middle school behavior here,” says Barbara Coloroso, who crusades against childhood bullying. Psychologist Piers Steel, an expert on procrastination, says Congress has the worst case of it he’s seen. Divorce attorney Sanford Ain’s assessment is blunter: “It’s nuts!”

A sampling of conflict-savvy professionals and scholars interviewed by The Associated Press finds dismay that the nation is in political stalemate after two years of showdowns and near-misses for the economy. Not that these they have any easy solutions, either…

“They’re pretty much the worst, hands down, of any group we ever investigated,” said Steel, who has researched procrastination for more than a decade. “They’re worse than college students.”

What finally gets people moving? A deadline. The paper must be written to pass the class. The house is tidied because company’s coming. The expense report is finished because the boss demands it by 5 p.m.

So it makes sense to set deadlines for solving the nation’s pressing fiscal problems. Only it isn’t working.