Is the Obama administration going out of its way to politicize the White House web site? At the least, the president seems to be using the platform to pressure House Republicans into supporting his payroll tax plans.
It what can only be described as an intriguing use of the government's web presence, a new WhiteHouse.gov graphic has emerged. It reads, "If the House doesn't act, middle class taxes increase in..." Next to this copy, a countdown clock lists the days, hours minutes and seconds left until the infamous payroll tax cut expires.
Beyond simply providing a time ticker, the White House goes on to ask, "What does $40 mean to you?" This question is clearly in reference to the payroll monies that are saved as a result of the tax-cut "stimulus" that is set to expire. Next to this question, another graphic that says "Tell Us" enables site visitors to share their story about how losing the money would be detrimental.
Here's a screen shot from WhiteHouse.gov, as it currently stands:
On a separate page (linked to by the "Tell Us" graphic), text reads more like a campaign advertisement than it does a WhiteHouse.gov informational page:
This use of messaging isn't random. On Tuesday, the House, led by Republicans, rejected a plan backed by President Obama that would have extended the tax benefit for two months. The Associated Press has more about the epic partisan battle that is raging in Washington:
House Republicans are demanding that the Senate join negotiations to produce an agreement within days; Senate Democrats insist no talks will take place before the House approves a stopgap measure to buy more time.
A House vote Tuesday scuttled a bipartisan Senate deal for a two-month extension of all three policies: the payroll tax cuts, jobless benefits and Medicare fees.
After the House killed the Senate measure on a 229-193 vote, Obama signaled he'll use his presidential megaphone to try to force Republicans controlling the House into submission.
Following the GOP's decision to squash the proposal, Obama's campaign has taken to Twitter to pressure Republicans, using the social media platform to share messages from people who want to see the payroll tax cut extended.
Here are some recent tweets and re-tweets from the @BarackObama account:
And here's a screen shot from the president's re-election Facebook page, where the messages take on a similar theme:
While it's certainly expected that the president would use his re-election social media presence to rail against the GOP, it's interesting to see him also using the White House web site to accomplish the same goal.