Now just weeks away, a crisis looms that might touch every paycheck in the land, and government services from the border to national parks.

President Barack Obama and a divided Congress are trying to avert a series of end-of-the-year spending cuts and tax increases that’s been dubbed the fiscal cliff. They still disagree on how to do that.

Failure would mean that $500 billion in tax increases take effect early next year, coupled with $109 billion in spending reductions, the first installment toward $1.2 trillion in cuts over two years. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said that might raise the unemployment rate to 9 percent or higher and push us back into a recession.

What is the fiscal cliff? How did we get to the edge? And what does it mean for Americans if the government goes over it?

Here are some answers…

Read more here: www.mcclatchydc.com