It would have been difficult for House Speaker Paul Ryan to seem more out of touch with the financial realities of the middle class if he tried. As part of his campaign to convince the public that the GOP’s tax cut isn’t just for the rich, Ryan took to Twitter to celebrate a story of a secretary who saw a $1.50 weekly increase in her paycheck, touting it as an example of the broad benefits of the measure.
“A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week … she said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for the year,” Ryan posted on Twitter, linking to an Associated Press report about how workers are seeing increases in their paychecks due to the tax cuts. A basic Costco membership costs $60 a year and the high school secretary, Julia Ketchum, will see her pay rise by $78 a year.
It didn’t take long for Democrats and social media users in general to pile on against Ryan, characterizing the tweet as a prime example of how the Republican leadership has no idea what it takes for lower income families to make ends meet. “That tweet about the $1.50 a week is not a PR mistake,” Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii wrote on Twitter. “It is really what they think.”
Ignoring a cardinal rule of social media, Ryan deleted the tweet, ensuring that it would suddenly get lots more attention as screenshots started spreading like wildfire. “Paul Ryan deleted his embarrassing tweet of a blatant admission because he and Republicans don’t want you to know the truth: the #GOPTaxScam is a gift to corporate America and the top 1% at your expense,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi tweeted.
Randy Bryce, a Democrat who is seeking to unseat Ryan used the tweet in a fundraising plea for people to pitch in $1.50 to his campaign. “Moments ago, @PRyan deleted this tweet after we told him just how out of touch he was,” Bryce wrote. “Show Paul Ryan what you think of his tax bill.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell wondered if Ryan had told the secretary “how much the paychecks of the 1% went up a week” while former Obama staffer Jon Favreu wrote that Ryan received $500,000 from the Koch brothers as a thank you for the tax cut, “which would probably cover the cost of buying a Costco.”
Others on social media took photos of $1.50 to show just how measly it is while others expressed shock that the House speaker would really think it was worth it to highlight a worker’s paycheck going up by $0.21 per day. The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham pointed out that the additional $78 a year that the secretary is earning is “less than Paul Ryan makes in one hour (roughly $108) as Speaker of the House.”
It’s unclear exactly why Ryan thought the example of the secretary was a good one to highlight considering the same AP article he linked to has other examples of workers who received increases of far more than $1.50 a week.