Read elsewhere for the ins and outs of the brinkmanship on the legislation whose primary purpose is to extend a so-called “payroll tax holiday” past Dec. 31. Depending on which side of the debate you are on, you can find plenty of spin to try to seize the high ground. Inaction will result in the end of a sweet tax break for workers that’s not quite as sweet for the federal coffers. The Obama administration has been fond of saying that the end of the holiday will cost 160 million U.S. taxpayers an average of $1,000 in 2012 — by pure coincidence, a presidential election year.
But the president’s communications team has become even fonder of crafting its message for the social media generation by breaking up that $1,000 into a more bite-sized $40 per week. Through that massaging of the message, they have created a Twitter trending topic called #40dollars.
It’s not surprising that Obama’s team has been particularly adroit at the whole internet thing. Their man was a candidate who famously sought a meeting with Mark Andreessen in 2008 — the two had never met — to talk about how social media might be leveraged in that year’s election. Now the administration has renovated WhiteHouse.gov’s sleepy political real estate and transformed it into an up-to-the-second focal point in the increasingly fractious yet fascinating battle over the tax bill.