Never mind all the Democrats who call the GOP’s tax bill a deficit-busting giveaway to the rich; House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has been enthusiastically promoting it as a middle-class tax windfall.
He’s been coaching other Republican lawmakers to sell the $1.5 trillion tax cut to voters, and telling people on Twitter to check their paychecks for wage hikes. The bill — which was deeply unpopular when it passed along party lines in December — is now breaking even in a new opinion poll.
So Saturday morning, by way of good news, Ryan’s Twitter account shared a story about a secretary taking home a cool $6 a month in tax savings.
Here is the passage in the Associated Press:
Julia Ketchum, a secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week. She didn’t think her pay would go up at all, let alone this soon. That adds up to $78 a year, which she said will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.
The tweet was deleted within hours, probably guaranteeing it will never be forgotten, and leaving people baffled as to why Ryan ever thought it would make a good advertisement for the tax plan’s supposed middle-class benefit.
It’s true that the bill is stingy to people at the bottom of the pay scale. In fact, the average tax break for someone making $25,400 a year or less happens to be $60 — the exact price of a Gold Star Costco membership.
And it's true that the bill showers money on those in the top income brackets. But between these extremes, millions of workers should see substantial cuts, ranging into the hundreds and thousands of dollars.
For example, the very same AP story Ryan quoted from also cited a care worker in Florida who got an extra $200 in his last paycheck, and a couple in Texas who will save enough to cover the costs of a new baby.
Why the House Speaker decided to highlight Julia Ketchum of Lancaster, Pa., and her $1.50 a week savings, the world may never know.
Neither Ryan’s office nor Ketchum could be reached for comment. But in an interview with CBS News, the school secretary wondered why Ryan had chosen her anecdote of all possible examples. "He may not have read the whole article," she said.
Not that hundreds of people dragging Ryan over his tweet seem that interested in finding out. The most common responses can be placed into three neat categories, below:
Open mockery of Ryan
Posting illustrations of how little money $1.50 is
There are more like this, but you get the idea.
Comparing $1.50 to large amounts of money in the same tax bill, and not in a good way
While it's hard to be sure, since President Trump refuses to release his income tax records, The Washington Post has written that he stands to save millions of dollars through the bill he promoted and signed.
Millions of dollars compares very favorably against $1.50 a week, as people on Twitter are now discovering.
Likewise $1.50 vs. $500,000 — the latter amount being what GOP financier Charles Koch and his wife reported donated to Ryan’s fundraising committee days after the tax bill passed.
Finally, $1.50 compared poorly against the untold government programs, staff or resources that will have to be cut in the future to pay for those hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings.
All of which is to say that even if Ryan’s tweet was only up for a few hours, jokes aside, it could end up haunting Republicans in the November election. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi — among others in her party — have already figured this out:
This story has been updated.