For a day anyway, the Santana and Massenburg family of Fairfax County was cast as the face of middle class America.
Their moment in the national spotlight came as President Barack Obama knocked on the door to their basement apartment, sat down at the kitchen table and talked about the impact a fiscal cliff tax hike would have on their life.
"When I got the opportunity to make my voice heard about what $2,000 would mean to my family, I jumped at it because we live as a unique family," Tiffany Santana explained.
The Fairfax County teacher had replied to a White House administration social media campaign called “#My2K." Two thousand dollars is the tax hike hit the average American family would take if Congress and the president can't come to terms on a deficit reduction plan before the "fiscal cliff" deadline of Dec. 31.
Santana, her husband, Richard; and their 6-year-old son, Noah, joined households with her parents, Jimmie and Velma Massenburg, a few years ago to make ends meet and create a better lifestyle with four incomes. In addition to Tiffany's job as an English teacher at George C. Marshall High School, Richard works at Springfield Toyota, Jimmie Massenburg is a postal worker and Velma Massenburg is a home day-care provider. They say a $2,000 tax hike amounts to a $4,000 increase for their combined household.
"Four-thousand dollars a year for us is two months’ rent," Tiffany said. "It is our son possibly not being able to do extracurricular activities that he likes to do like tae kwon do."
Tiffany said she's hopeful Republicans will compromise with the president.
"I think the president has been re-elected with a mandate from people like us, and he ran on a campaign that said he wouldn't raise taxes on the middle class,” she said. “He ran on a campaign that said he would allow Bush-era tax cut to expire for the wealthy."
Velma Massenburg said she hopes the president's visit to their home will influence members of Congress.
"I hope they might see a person,” she said. “I think sometimes they are forgetting that what they are doing behind closed doors in Congress affects me, my face."
The family also took a moment after Mr. Obama's left to reflect about the thrill of a presidential visit.
"When he walks through your door, shakes your hands, gives you a hug, oh shoot, I'm on cloud nine," Jimmie Massenburg said.
He had quite a story to tell his colleagues as he prepared to work the overnight shift at the Merrifield Post Office.