By now you've heard of the fiscal cliff. That's the name for what would happen next year if all of the Bush and Obama tax cuts and credits were allowed to expire, raising the nation's tax bill by a cool $500 billion in that year alone. That's what's scheduled to happen under current law. However, sucking that much money out of the economy at once would push the United States back into recession. The two political parties in Congress can't agree how to keep the nation from falling off this cliff, although quiet negotiations are under way in the Senate.
To better understand what's at stake, and the arguments that the two parties are making in the campaign, it is useful to consider how the end of the various tax cuts would affect federal revenues. It's a way to measure their relative size.
That's where the Tax Policy Center comes in. It released a study Oct. 1 that puts some numbers very big numbers into the debate. It is titled, appropriately, "Toppling Off the Fiscal Cliff: Whose Taxes Rise and How Much?"