Joe the plumber, tragic figure

Much has been made of Samuel J. Wurzelbacher since his repeated mention in the third and final 2008 presidential debate. Despite John McCain’s propping him up as an everyday American who would be hurt by Obama’s tax policy, the truth has turned out to be anything but.

We now know that Wurzelbacher is not licensed as a plumber and can’t do any plumbing legally. He’s instead a general contractor. The business he said he’d been planning to buy, currently owned by his boss, doesn’t make the $250,000 a year that would bump up into a higher tax bracket as he claimed. Instead it makes less than half that, about $100,000 a year. Joe himself only makes about $40,000 a year, and couldn’t afford to buy the business anyway, even at the lower valuation.

In short, Joe Wurzelbacher lied on the national stage, misrepresenting himself in order to pose what John McCain might term a “gotcha question” to Obama.

What’s really tragic about this is that Joe is just a poor dupe conned by the Republican party into acting against his own best interests. At his current rate of income, Joe would actually get a tax cut under the Obama plan, allowing him to save more to buy a business of his own someday. But Joe isn’t working towards that. Instead, he’s working to pay more in taxes (since McCain will tax his medical benefits) and get further and further from his stated dream.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you make less than a million dollars a year, you have no business being a Republican. They are not looking out for you.

8 thoughts on “Joe the plumber, tragic figure”

  1. “Ive said it before and Ill say it again. If you make less than a million dollars a year, you have no business being a Republican. They are not looking out for you.”

    That’s it in a nutshell.

    –Rob

  2. All due respect to Joe. . but he has become the latest distraction in this election. It seems like the closer we get to voting the less people talk about the issues that are important to the future of the country. . .like the economy.

    Regardless of who is elected president, the next President has to make the economy his first priority. . I signed this petition to the 44th President. .

    http://friendsoftheuschamber.com/email/44_email.html

    . . the message is clear — the economy has to come first

  3. Ive said it before and Ill say it again. If you make less than a million dollars a year, you have no business being a Republican. They are not looking out for you

    According to McCain’s little joke you can make that 5 million 🙂

  4. Doing a little more research:

    1. His name isn’t Joe it is Samuel.

    2. He isn’t a plumber, he is “operating under” his boss’ license, basically exploiting a loophole in the law.

    3. The company he is “getting ready to buy” isn’t worth $250,000.

    4. He isn’t “getting ready” to buy it anyway. It is a long term goal/dream he has for himself.

    5. He owes $1182.98 in back taxes for 2007 (That would be under W’s tax plan. Why would Obama’s answer matter, He isn’t paying his taxes anyhow?)

    6. Obama’s plan would not raise his taxes a penny until the company made over $250,000.

    6. He, himself, told ABC he was “not even close” to earning $250,000 but worried that Obama would raise taxes for those making less. (So his argument was based on fear not facts by his own admission)

    The most amazing part of this whole thing is: his own candidate throws him under the bus by making him a household name. The popularity brings the reporters down on him who systematically tear apart his life. After ALL this, the guy is STILL voting republican?

    Is there any part of this “Joe the Plumber” story that makes sense? Well he IS a registered voter. I guess that counts for something.

  5. “1. His name isnt Joe it is Samuel.”
    False. That’s like saying, his name isn’t Wurzelbacher; it’s Samuel.

    His middle name is Joseph, and he called himself Joe. Why is this even an issue???

    “2. He isnt a plumber, he is operating under his boss license, basically exploiting a loophole in the law.”
    Does he fix toilets? Is that his profession? Did he lie about his profession? Again, why is this even relevant to anything? He’s a plumber.

    “3. The company he is getting ready to buy isnt worth $250,000.”
    The value of the company is irrelevant.

    “4. He isnt getting ready to buy it anyway. It is a long term goal/dream he has for himself.”
    Actually, he said he’s “looking to buy” the company. You’re contradicting a made-up quote.

    “5. He owes $1182.98 in back taxes for 2007 (That would be under Ws tax plan. Why would Obamas answer matter, He isnt paying his taxes anyhow?)”
    His question was posed specifically as a hypothetical for his situation after he buys the business. His current income is irrelevant.

    “6. Obamas plan would not raise his taxes a penny until the company made over $250,000.”
    They keep talking about $250K, but I believe the threshold for businesses is $200K. And the only actual source I’ve seen anywhere on the income of Joe’s employer is a USA Today article which quoted some expert who relied on a “commercial business database.” Those databases make up figures based on # of employees, industry, location, etc.

    “6. He, himself, told ABC he was not even close to earning $250,000 but worried that Obama would raise taxes for those making less. (So his argument was based on fear not facts by his own admission)”
    No, if you listen to his actual question on YouTube, he’s not talking about his current income OR any fear about Obama doing something more than he’s promised. Joe’s concern is the principle of punishing success. He doesn’t like the idea that if he succeeds, he’d have to pay higher taxes. There’s nothing irrational about that position.

    Btw, I’m probably voting for Obama. I just hate the fact that the media (and blog) reaction to Joe was so irrelevant, dishonest, and personal. He’s a plumber, and his name is Joe.

  6. I don’t think of it as punishing success. I think of it as having a society where we’re all in this together, where people succeed in concert with others and are expected to help others become successful as they were helped.

    The great American dream of a gutsy Joe making it on his own, rising from humble beginnings to fabulous wealth through just his own unbeatable moxie, is Hollywood bullshit. Everyone gets where they are through interaction with others, help or hindrance. Paying more in taxes so that others can get a leg up on their own American dream is a small price to pay for people who have benefited so much from the very same (or inherited wealth from forebears who benefited).

    We’re all in this together, and a rising tide lifts all boats. The sooner Republicans get this and drop the idea that life is a zero sum game where for them to win someone else has to lose, the better off we’ll all be.

  7. In the case of Joe the Plumber, it’s the Democrats who are viewing it as a zero sum game, while Joe is viewing it as a matter of principle.

    Note all the arguments made about Joe’s current income and how Obama’s plan might impact his current situation. The prevailing mindset is, “how will I benefit?” Note Obama’s message that 95% of Americans will get a tax cut under his plan, and only rich people will suffer. Note your own blog post arguing that people should favor what’s in their immediate self interest and that the rich have too much money. You’re a champion of zero sum.

    On the other hand, Joe and others believe that everyone will be better off if we have the right incentives in place. The more government hands out, the less incentive there is to work hard. The more we tax businesses, the more they’ll cut jobs and move jobs and investments overseas. The more we tax investments, the less investment dollars will flow into the US. These are non zero sum principles.

    Redistributing the wealth doesn’t grow the pie. Setting up the right incentives does.

  8. Except that Obama is actually going to set up tax incentives for businesses to keep jobs here in the US rather than move them overseas. We’re not talking about handouts, we’re talking about creating more opportunities for people other than the already rich.

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