WASHINGTON (Fortune) — John McCain has tried to paint his Democratic opponent as a big-spending, big-taxing liberal.
How do you condemn Obama as a Big-Government Liberal when your fellow Republicans in the White House are busily nationalizing portions of the country’s biggest banks, bailing out the world’s largest insurer, taking over semi-private mortgage securities firms – and, along the way, putting several hundred billion dollars in taxpayer money at risk? When your own plan, borrowed from Hillary Clinton, commands the Treasury Department to spend $300 billion to buy up home mortgages from people who can’t make their payments?
So in Wednesday’s debate, McCain shifted tactics to accuse Obama of being one of those liberals eager to take your hard-earned wealth and redistribute it to those less hard working or less fortunate. And that’s when we got to meet Joe the Plumber, whose name came up 26 times in the course of 90 minutes.
Joe is Joe Wurzelbacher, a Toledo, Ohio plumber who showed up at an Obama rally to challenge the Democrat’s tax policies. Wurzelbacher wants to buy the business where he works but says he’s worried that, if the company is successful, he’ll face higher taxes. Obama has said that he’ll cut taxes for those making under $250,000 but that people making more than that would see an increase.
Judging by McCain’s Cheshire grin, and repeated replays of Joe’s story (later in the debate he said Obama’s health plan would penalize Joe; Obama said it wouldn’t), the Arizona senator clearly thought this could be his “game-changing” moment – that the discovery of a video-clip capturing Obama’s exchange with Joe would reset a presidential race that seems headed toward a solid Obama victory.
But it’s a tall order to ask Joe to turn around the McCain campaign with only 19 days to go. The Real Clear Politics average shows Obama leading by seven points nationally. He has a wide lead in improbable places like Virginia, and is more narrowly ahead in important battlegrounds like Florida and Ohio.
Most tellingly, perhaps, is this week’s New York Times/CBS poll, which found that roughly 7 in 10 voters think Obama has the right kind of “temperament and personality” to be president, while just over half said that of McCain.
(CNN) — Joe Biden sounded skeptical of “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher’s working-class credentials Thursday.
“You notice John [McCain] continues to cling to the notion of this guy Joe the plumber,” Biden said on NBC’s Today show. “I don’t have any Joe the plumbers in my neighborhood that make $250,000 a year that are worried.”
“The Joe the plumbers in my neighborhood, the Joe the cops in my neighborhood, the Joe the grocery store owners in my neighborhood — they make, like 98 percent of the small businesses, less than $250,000 a year,” said the Democratic VP nominee. “And they’re going to do very well under us, and they’re going to be in real tough shape under John McCain.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters in the United States in 2007 was $47,350.
From ABC News:
ABC News’ Chris Bury is outside Toledo, near the home of Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the Plumber,” and reports that Wurzelbacher — such a key part of Sen. John McCain’s critique of Sen. Barack Obama’s economic proposals — acknowledged that he wants to purchase the plumbing business for $250-280,000, not that he would net that much in profits.
He would make much less, he said.
Which would seem to indicate that he would be eligible for an Obama tax cut, not that he would be subject to the tax increase from 36% to 39% Obama would impose on those making more than $200,000 per person, or $250,000 per family.
Oh, and then there’s this, from MSNBC:
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Joe the Plumber, America’s most famous tradesman, said Thursday he doesn’t have a license and doesn’t need one.
Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, the nickname Republican John McCain bestowed on him during Wednesday’s presidential debate, said he works for a small plumbing company that does residential work. Because he works for someone else, he doesn’t need a license, he said.
But the county Wurzelbacher and his employer live in, Lucas County, requires plumbers to have licenses. Neither Wurzelbacher nor his employer are licensed there, said Cheryl Schimming of Lucas County Building Regulations, which handles plumber licenses in parts of the county outside Toledo.
Wurzelbacher said Obama’s tax plan wouldn’t affect him right now, because he doesn’t make $250,000. “But I hope someday I’ll make that,” he said.
As he leaned against the Dodge Durango SUV parked in his driveway Thursday morning, Wurzelbacher indicated to reporters who crowded around that he was a conservative, a fan of the military and McCain. He said meeting McCain would be an honor but said he hadn’t been contacted by the Republican campaign.
Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) — “Joe the plumber,” the Toledo, Ohio, man whose complaints about Barack Obama’s tax plan were featured in the final presidential debate, owes the state of Ohio almost $1,200 in back income taxes.
According to records on file with the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, the state filed a tax lien against Samuel J. Wurzelbacher for $1,182.98 on Jan. 26, 2007, that is still active.
Okay, kids, now get your tinfoil hats on! Do any of you know anyone with the last name Wurzelbacher? It’s not quite as common as Smith or Jones. From Progress Ohio:
Do Todd and Sarah Palin Know Doug Wurzelbacher Of Wasilla, Alaska?
It would appear so . . . I mean it is a “small town” with small town values.
Is Doug Wurzelbacher related to Joe Wurzelbacher AKA “Plumber Joe”?
According to the census, there are less than 175 Wurzelbachers in the country, and one of them lived in… WASILLA, ALASKA! and was involved in competitive snow racing.
Competitive snow racing? Could he have possibly crossed paths with Todd Palin, who is a competitive snowmachine racer?
I don’t know about you, kids, but I’m suspicious. Especially since I saw this in the back Joe the Plumber’s Dodge Durango….