Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, recently waded into a couple of Twitter battles with TV stars.
Jenna Fischer, the Fort Wayne-born actress best known for playing Pam on the NBC comedy series "The Office," had tweeted Dec. 23 to complain about the income tax overhaul plan passed by the Republican Congress.
"I can't stop thinking about how school teachers can no longer deduct the cost of their classroom supplies on their taxes...something they shouldn't have to pay for with their own money in the first place. I mean, imagine if nurses had to go buy their own syringes," Fischer wrote.
The day after Christmas, Banks commented on Twitter: "Disappointing to see this inaccurate tweet shared so many times. The truth is tax reform retains important tax benefits and deductions many Americans count on, including relief for high medical bills, mortgage interest, and education expenses."
The northeast Indiana lawmaker's remark caused a flurry of reactions. Many tweets criticized him, a couple backed him and some strayed from the subject at hand.
For the record, tax-code legislation passed by the House would have eliminated the $250 tax deduction teachers can claim for spending their own money on school supplies, but a Senate-passed bill would have doubled it. The final version approved by Congress kept the deduction at $250.
Fischer later deleted her remark and tweeted an apology, saying she "did not mean to spread misinformation. I was well-intentioned, but I was behind on my research."
In another apparent tax-bill dust-up, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., tweeted Dec. 23: "At the end of each year, no matter how short—or long—it may feel, there is always Christmas. Waiting for us is that sense of wonder the shepherds felt when the angels appeared in the night sky to herald the birth of a Savior."
On Christmas Day, comedian-actress-TV personality Rosie O'Donnell tweeted: "paul ryan - don't talk about Jesus after what u just did to our nation - u will go straight to hell u screwed up fake altar boy."
Banks told Political Notebook that O'Donnelly's tweet "was beyond the pale." Yet Banks – using his personal Twitter account and not the one identifying him as a member of the House – weighed in with "Merry Christmas, @Rosie."
To which O'Donnell replied: "thank u jim and to u." He later called it "a kind response."
A couple other people joined the thread to write tweets calling Banks "evil" and "truly a big piece of" excrement.