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To break down the payroll tax cut and the repercussions of the stalemate into simpler terms, the White House took to Twitter and asked the masses what $40 meant to them and came away with sad snapshots of American life in 2011. $40 is "what officials estimate the average American would lose from his or her paycheck every two weeks, starting in January without an agreement on an extension of the tax cut. The $40 is based on someone earning about $50,000 a year and paying about $1,000 more in taxes annually," writes Jennifer Preston of The New York Times. The White House sent a tweet two days ago asking America about that $40 (right), and have posted, what seems to be the most heart-breaking collection stories on its blog. The latest round of answers is up.  "#40dollars means I can buy a pair of shoes that don't have holes in the soles so my feet stay dry," wrote one tweeter.  Another writes:

"I have a significant physical disability (born without arms or legs). I have worked all my life, and have always paid out-of-pocket for my personal attendant care. I would have to give up many hours of personal attendant care each month without the $40 per paycheck from the payroll tax cut.  These are essential services to me that allow me to work and remain independent.  And my attendant would suffer as well. "

Of course it's probably someone's job to sift and pick and choose the most poignant answers--the White House Facebook page asked the same answer and partisan rancor seems to have dominated that page--but from people losing their homes to not being able to buy groceries, $40 in America has never looked more depressing.  

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