How would you feel if your paycheck was suddenly $40 short? What about if your unemployment check just stopped coming weeks or months before you expected? Thanks to some late-night wheeling and dealing by lawmakers on Capitol Hill to produce a deal, no one will find out. But many almost did.
A short-term extension of a payroll tax cut that on average translates into about an extra $40 per paycheck and a federal unemployment benefits program that’s helped millions of people who are out of work keep food on the table or pay for a place to lay their head were set to expire again at the end of March.
Just like he did last year, President Obama earlier this week urged Americans to let Congress know just how much $40 means to them via emails and tweets. Responses have ranged from necessities like gas and medicine to “the difference between opportunity and misfortune” and “EVERYTHING,” forcing resistant House Republicans to cave in December and again on Friday when a deal to extend the tax cut and unemployment benefits through the end of the year hits the floor for a vote.
Tea Party revolutionary Rep. Allen West, however, doesn’t think much of the plan, which he calls an “economic band-aid” or the White House’s social media campaign, which he says is just a “political tool.” Not that those are reasons to not co-opt the idea for the GOP.
“[We’re] going to accumulate our own list of the top ten things that $40 does not get you,” said West in an interview on CNN. “As a matter of fact, I can’t fill up a tank of gas in my vehicle back home with $40 of gas.”
That sounds like a plan House Republican leaders would frown upon. So might many of the constituents in West’s newly drawn district, where he is facing a primary challenge from the left and the right.
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(Photo: John W. Adkisson/Getty Images)