In the controversy surrounding the "fiscal cliff" issue, it's easy to forget that the origin of the entire debate was a professed desire to reduce swollen federal deficits.
Whether the target was $4 trillion over 10 years, as proposed by the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction commission, or in the $2 trillion range, as tossed around by House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama, the idea was to rein in total debt that now tops $16 trillion.
By those standards, the bill passed by the U.S. Senate early on New Year's Day to avoid the cliff's automatic steep tax hikes and across-the-board spending cuts, looks paltry indeed.
The legislation, which as of Tuesday evening had yet to be passed by the House, would add nearly $4 trillion to federal deficits over a decade compared to the debt reduction envisioned in the extreme scenario of the cliff, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
This is largely because it extends low income tax rates for nearly every American except the relative handful above the $400,000 threshold.
and yes grammar police, I know the dollar sign before the four shouldn't be there but it looks better anyway.