If you'd prefer a quick chart to go through the details, the New York Times' Johnathan Weisman made a fantastically simple but easy to read chart - that we've pulled just a few highlights from here:
What Was Included In The Deal:
|Income Tax Rates||Maintains current rates on income below $400,000 for singles and $450,000 for couples. Would permanently increase tax rates on income above that to 39.6 percent from 35 percent.
|Dividends and capital gains rates||Permanently increases tax rates to 20 percent from 15 percent for single people with income over $400,000 and couples over $450,000.
|Estate Tax||Permanently increases tax rates to 40 percent from 35 percent on the value of estates over $5 million.
What Was Left Out:
|Debt Ceiling||The country officially hit its debt limit Monday, and the Treasury is undertaking “extraordinary measures” to put off default. If Congress does not raise the ceiling by late February or early March, the Treasury will not be able to pay all of its bills.
|Additional Deficit Reduction||Earlier proposals by President Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner included hundreds of billions more in deficit reduction, with Mr. Obama favoring increased taxes on the wealthy and Mr. Boehner favoring spending cuts.
Highlights: Unemployment insurance was also extended for a year, while key provisions of the Farm Bill were also extended for nine months. The Alternative Minimum Tax was fixed permanently, while the Payroll Tax Cut was allowed to expire.
Winners & Losers
Politically, President Obama was a big winner in these negotiations, as even conversative commentator Joe Scarborough admitted. House Republicans were losers, and Speaker John Boehner is generally considered to have been the biggest loser of all.
Economically, those Americans earning between $200,000 and $450,000 were the biggest winners, as were the millions of unemployed Americans who still have benefits thanks to the President and Congressional Democrats.
What This Means - And What's Next
For most Americans, including most small business owners? This was all a show, with no real substantial effects. And this wasn't even the first act.
The first act came in August of 2011, when the President negotiated with the Republicans, and cut the budget by nearly a trillion dollars. When right-wing whiners you know complain they didn't get anything in the fiscal cliff deal, remind them Republicans said they got "98% of everything they wanted" in August of 2011 - which included massive cuts to all kinds of government programs.
Round two belonged to the President - and it was about raising revenue and tax rates.
Round three - the upcoming battle over the sequester cuts that was pushed off for two months - will be about closing loopholes.
The final round will be about lowering the deficit, bringing in more revenues - and if the economy needs it, likely a push for more stimulus.
Check out the links below for even more details on the fiscal cliff deal.