While no one seems to know what the term 'fiscal cliff' even means, the thing that we do know is that it's looming and it's bad, particularly for women and people of color. As of Friday morning, President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner have decided to carry out fiscal cliff negotiations one-on-one, which many hope will lead to a quicker resolution. But some point out that public debt, while obviously a huge problem, may be masking yet another threat to the economy: private debt.
Understanding exactly what's at stake in the negotiations is important, but many people, including members of the media, don't. At the New York Times, Paul Krugman writes, "[If] there’s one thing the fiscal cliff confrontation isn’t, it’s a ' debt crisis.' The problem — a political standoff that may lead to damaging austerity in an economy that’s still depressed and in a liquidity trap — has nothing to do with either debt or deficits; the danger would be exactly the same if America had a balanced budget and low debt."
If you're desperately torn between whether you should spend your last minutes earth worrying about the Mayan apocalypse or trying to understand the underlying economic issues behind all the Boehner-Obama bickering, fret no more. NerdWallet can explain the whole thing in one infographic.
Congratulations! Now you understand the fiscal cliff better than a toddler.