If you haven't heard of the fiscal cliff, read this.

If you want an event shorter primer, here goes: the "fiscal cliff" is what this here US of A will hit on December 31 of this year because of all the hard decisions that were postponed in all the previous episodes of crazy budget brinksmanship.

In other words, America is less than six months (and one presidential election) away from a huge problem.

With that in mind, Washington Senator Patty Murray went to the Brookings Institution on Monday and very clearly put Republicans on notice that, unlike in past budget standoffs, Democrats this time are willing to let the country go right over that fiscal cliff if that's what it takes to reset tax rates to more sustainable levels. (Meaning: if that's what it takes to get the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to finally, officially expire.)

In fact, Murray pointed out, going over the fiscal cliff on December 31, 2012 might even have an added benefit, in that it would make Grover Norquist and his famous anti-tax pledge "no longer relevant to this conversation."

How would that happen? Watch this video. It's long, but it offers one of the most cogent descriptions of the problem—and way forward—that you'll find out there right now. (And, if you want the video to be half as long, the good stuff starts at around 20 minutes in.)

One of the many money quotes:

I will not agree to a deal that throws middle class families under the bus and forces them to bear this burden alone. Unless Republicans end their commitment to protecting the rich above all else, our country is going to have to face the consequences of Republican intransigence.