• Going off the cliff would affect 88 percent of U.S. taxpayers, with their taxes rising by an average of $3,500 a year, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Taxes would jump $2,400 on average for families with incomes of $50,000 to $75,000.

Because consumers would get less of their paychecks to spend, businesses and jobs would suffer.

• About $1.2 trillion in federal spending cuts would kick in (approximately $110 billion a year for 10 years), divided equally between the Pentagon and most other federal agencies.

Cuts of 8 or 9 percent would hit most of the federal government, touching all sorts of things from agriculture, law enforcement, the military to weather forecasting.

A few areas, such as Social Security benefits, Veterans Affairs and some programs for the poor, are exempt.

• Federal jobless benefits would expire for 2 million unemployed Americans.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecasts that inaction would push up the unemployment rate to 9.1 percent by the end of 2013.