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President Obama wages hashtag war with #40dollars

Even the Republicans have been reduced to parroting the White House’s talking points on Twitter.


Austin Powell


For Jim Schmidt (@zaren), $40 equals a tank of gas to get “to and from work for the week.” For Will Jones (@wmmjones), that amount covers half of her weekly grocery bill, while Matthew Nocella (@mattnocella) would use it to help with student loan payments.

Using the hashtag #40dollars, the White House’s official Twitter account launched an online campaign on Tuesday night to help spotlight the real-life effect that not extending the current payroll tax cut would have on working-class class families.

For a family earning $50,000 a year, the change would result in roughly $1,000 less to spend over the course of a year—or $40 per paycheck.

The campaign immediately followed the House of Representative’s rejection of a Senate compromise that would have extended the tax cut for two months and is tied to a petition from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The White House is also displaying a countdown to the potential expiration of the tax cuts on Jan. 1 on its website.

Of course, not everyone agrees with the tax cut extension. Many argue that it’s a short-term solution that avoids the larger issues.

Yet, the campaign has clearly been successful—and Obama’s opponents haven’t found an effective counter-tactic on Twitter. The hashtag has been mentioned more than 13,000 times on Twitter and roughly 3,000 times in the last 20 hours, according to statistics from Topsy, a social media search engine.

Some of those, to be sure, are Republican supporters making use of the hashtag to inject their viewpoints into the conversation.

Even House Speaker John Boehner has joined in on the White House hashtag. “House GOP bill: typical family keeps #40dollars more EVERY paycheck next year. Senate Dems’ bill: taxes go up in March,” he posted. One could point out that he’s been forced to use the White House’s hashtag to argue his case.

Taking matters one step further, the White House curated the best responses into a Storify—a digital capsule of support to be remembered and referenced long-after those tweets have filtered out users’ timelines—and created a compelling infographic map detailing where the responses came from.

President Obama announced plans on Twitter to address the issue today at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Photo by @WhiteHouse

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