That #40dollars hashtag you saw trending on Twitter Wednesday afternoon was not some last minute Christmas shopping advertisement.
It was a White House effort to remind people exactly how much money a typical family making $50,000 per year saves in each two-week paycheck as a result of the payroll tax cutthat the White House would like to extend next year.
The White House and Congressional Republicans have been locked in a bitter fight this week about whether or not to extend the tax cutfor two months or a full year.
So White House officials took to the Internet to ask people to tweet about what they could buy with an extra $40. The responses were overwhelming, with 2,000 tweets per hour surging in at one point, the White House said, with more than 20,000 responses coming from all 50 states coming into the White House website.
The White House’s big internet bullhorn of 2.6 million twitter followers helped make #40dollars a trending topic nationwide and worldwide, alongside such non-political topics as “Friend Zone” and #Fenway100.”
In a blog post Wednesday, White House staffer Megan Slack wrote, “Based on the latest report from Hashtracking.com, those tweets have generated 7,425,833 impressions, reaching an audience of 7,288,208 followers within the past 24 hours.”
The White House got a lot of the kind of tweets it wanted, with “IamSauerkraut” tweeting #40dollars “is what it cost me today to fill up my tank w/gasoline today.” And “allanbrauer” tweeted #40dollars “is what I spend each month on a chiropractor visit that keeps me free of pain.”
“I suspect that the voices that we’re hearing from people who are responding to the #40dollars that we started yesterday, that they are representative of folks around the country in the districts of House Republicans, as well as Democrats in the states all over the country for whom $40 a paycheck is a big deal,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney.
But plenty of Obama critics weighed in on the hash tag, as well: “Reid_Bauman” tweeted “I could donate #40dollars to @newtgingrich or @RonPaul.”
Even House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office – which is being targeted by the hashtag – got into the #40dollars spirit Wednesday, with this tweet from the press office: “Families can't budget in 60 day increments. We need D's 2 join us on a yearlong extension.