By John Tepper Marlin, Ph.D.

                           Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) have agreed to organize a Secret Santa gift collection for senators, with a limit of $10 per gift. So what can we recommend to our Senators Schumer and Gillibrand that they buy for colleagues on the other side of the aisle? Let’s pretend the rules allow them to direct gifts to certain senators (Sen. Schumer heads up the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, so maybe he has some influence on these matters):

For Senator Schumer: A Bird Gift for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Two Plastic Pink Flamingo Yard Ornaments. “A true classic, these flamingos will make every visitor to your home feel welcome! Use them as everyday lawn ornaments or display them to dress up a luau or beach party! Each 21" plastic flamingo stands on 23 3/4" wire legs. (2 pcs. per set). $9, shipping free.” From Oriental Trading Company. The flamingo is not Florida’s state bird (it is the mockingbird). However, for the money it conveys gulf between the 0.2 percent of Floridians who are millionaires and can have real flamingos in their back yards, and the 99.8 percent who earn less and have to make do with the plastic birds. Sen. Rubio voted against extending the payroll tax cut in favor of the 0.2 percent of Florida’s 9 million residents who would have had to pay more taxes to offset the payroll-tax revenue.

For Senator Gillibrand: A Bird Gift for Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) or Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) – a stuffed chickadee. The black-capped chickadee is the state bird of both Maine and Massachusetts. An important characteristic of the chickadee is that it is easily attracted to feeders. Sen. Snowe and Sen. Brown both voted against the payroll tax reduction extension on behalf of their residents who are millionaires, the 0.05 percent in Maine, as opposed to the 800,000 Maine residents - or the 0.5 percent in Massachusetts, as opposed to the 3.5 million Massachusetts residents who are not. To buy your little chickadee for less than $10 including shipping, look for Lil’ Kinz on the web. The Webkins are actually fun toys.
If you don’t like these suggestions, trying finding a bird to give to Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV, state bird Mountain Bluebird), who voted with the 0.2 percent of Nevadans who are millionaires. Or one for Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA, state bird Ruffed Grouse) who voted with the 0.1 percent of Pennsylvanians who are millionaires.

(Thanks to the Center for American Progress Action Fund for data on millionaires in each state.)

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