Putting a Human Face on the Payroll Tax Numbers

Dec 22, 2011 10:35am

At 7:36 Wednesday night, President Obama personally tweeted news on how he would carry forward with the next step in the White House public relations battle over extending the payroll tax cut.

“Everyone should see what #40dollars means to folks: groceries, daycare, gas, copays. Keep it going. I’ll talk abt this tmrw @ 12:15ET. -bo” he wrote on the official site @WhiteHouse. The initials at the end are to indicate this is from the president himself.

At midday Thursday, President Obama is due to step before microphones and cameras in the office building across the White House driveway and introduce some Americans who wrote in with descriptions of what the average $40 means to them in each biweekly paycheck.

White House press secretary Jay Carney read off some of the responses at his daily briefing Wednesday.

“Someone contacting us from Connecticut says, ‘I can buy lunch from the cafeteria for almost a whole month for my twins. I can buy food or pay for gas. I can save it for my daughter’s prescriptions, prescription deductibles.’ ” Carney reported. ” ‘To some people $40 is nothing, but $40 is big money for us.’ In West Virginia someone wrote in saying, ‘After everything that comes out, including my mortgage, my take-home pay is $150 every two weeks. So minus $40 would be $110. I can barely get by now. That 40 bucks is my gas for my car to get to work. Taking $40 away from my pay would just about put me under.’ ”

The $40 figure is an estimate of the amount that would remain in a biweekly paycheck for an average family earning about $50,000 a year.  The person cited above would likely see a much smaller payroll tax increase if the extension fails.

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