The taxes are due in the year you convert at your regular income-tax rate. If you move a large sum all at once that can bump you into a higher tax bracket. Converting in smaller amounts for several years is a wise move, but even then your income will be higher every year. Because taxes are progressive, you end up paying your highest personal tax rate on those converted IRA dollars.
Withdrawals, since not previously taxed, will be included in your taxable ordinary income. RMDs are the minimum that you must withdraw each year — you can always withdraw more, but withdrawing more than the maximum does not allow you to carry over the difference and lowering your RMD in future years.
There is growing consensus in Washington that the inability of many American families to cope with economic blows is a serious problem that needs fixing. The most efficient, robust solution would be to strengthen our key social insurance programs: Social Security, health insurance and unemployment insurance.