White House Taps Texans On Fiscal Cliff

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The White House Office of Public Engagement (OPE) has tapped organizers from 18 states to help President Obama fulfill his second term agenda starting with the fiscal cliff. I, along with the group of roughly 75 others from across Texas had the honor of visiting the White House to participate in these discussions. We often hear from Texas Republicans that this administration has forsaken Texas but nothing could be further from the truth. We had the opportunity to hear from Jon Carson, Director for the Office of Public Engagement, and he told us how important Texas was to this administration particularly with respect to our high number of uninsured as it relates to our coming health care exchange. Whether it is expanding health insurance coverage or Medicaid, Texas leaders continue to reject much needed federal assistance while simultaneously claiming we are being ignored. The fiscal cliff is the first challenge but we were assured that these conversations will continue throughout the President's second term.

It took four months for the administration to organize around a message after his first inauguration and I can remember quite clearly Democrats and progressives questioning how such an effective election campaign had failed to seamlessly convert campaign promises into legislative victories even though our party held both chambers of Congress. This was partly due to the transition into the world's most difficult job but also legal constraints preventing Obama For America (the campaign) to act as an official arm of the White House. Though the 2nd issue remains this time around the Administration knew on day one what its priority would be. The President would use his political capital to pass a more fair tax plan that involved raising taxes on the most wealthy among us – a laudable and responsible goal considering the increasing wealth disparity in the US is beginning to look more in line with 3rd world nations.

At the behest of OPE our group held breakout sessions where we discussed many aspects including social media, messaging, advocacy, testimonials and letters to newspaper editors across the state.  The social media breakout group came up with a Texas version of the White House's own My2K, and the independent The Action called Don't Jump Texas.  The My2K concept is based on the fact that the average middle-class American taxes will go up by $2000 if Congress does not act to avoid the fiscal cliff, and asks Americans what an extra $2K would mean to this this holiday season. The Action was created as a hub for ideas and actions taking place across the country to assist the administration in their efforts to bring tax rates for the top 2% to that of the Clinton era.

Don't jump Texas is the result of our efforts to create an outlet that is Texas-centric and focuses on how going over the cliff will hurt our state. You can join the conversation on twitter by following @DontJumpTX, using the hashtag #DontJumpTX along with #FiscalCliff or find us on facebook at facebook.com/dontjumptx. If you would like to be part of our video testimonial of what the fiscal cliff or an extra $2K means to your family please contact us on either facebook or twitter.

There isn't much time and the White House assured us that the President is prepared to tackle an aggressive second term agenda but that they need this important victory behind them when he lays out his vision on inauguration day January 21st. If you need further proof that this President plans to work closely with Texas in his 2nd term, just ask the administration what they hope could be his greatest 2nd term accomplishment – comprehensive immigration reform.

The Stakes for Middle-Class Families in Texas:

If the GOP-controlled House fails to extend the middle-class tax cuts:

8.7 million middle-class families will see their federal income taxes go up.

A typical median-income family of four (earning $65,900) could see its income taxes rise by $2,200.

Families will receive a smaller Child Tax Credit, and 3,391,000 low-and moderate-income working families with children will lose access to the Child Tax Credit altogether, costing them an average  $1,010 a year.

963,000 middle-class families will no longer get help paying for college from the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

Small businesses will be able to claim immediate tax deductions for only $25,000, rather than $250,000 of new investments.

More information and action you can take:

Call for Stories – Make your voice heard on this issue.  http://www.whitehouse.gov/issu…

“7 Facts About the Tax Debate” http://www.whitehouse.gov/issu…

Great info graphic on the Obama tax plan: http://www.whitehouse.gov/info…


About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.


  1. Congrats
    to the 75 Texans in joining Susan Rice in becoming charter members of Stooges for Obama who's motto is “damn common sense just listen and repeat”.  

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