Does Joe the Plumber know Joe Six-Pack?
(Corrects third paragraph to say Joe about to buy a business)
Joe the Plumber was the surprise star of the third and final presidential debate, getting no less than 13 mentions in the opening minutes.
So who is this guy? His full name is Joe Wurzelbacher, and it turns out he had a close encounter with Barack Obama a few days ago. John McCain adopted Joe’s cause as a way to tar his opponent as a tax-and-spend liberal.
The apparent problem is that Joe is about to buy a company that makes a little over $250,000 a year, and under Obama’s proposal that would put him into a higher tax bracket. Obama told Joe that he wasn’t trying to punish his success, only to spread the wealth around.
“Joe wants to buy the business that he has been in for all of these years, worked 10, 12 hours a day. And he wanted to buy the business but he looked at your tax plan and he saw that he was going to pay much higher taxes,” McCain said.
“Joe, I want to tell you, I’ll not only help you buy that business that you worked your whole life for and be able — and I’ll keep your taxes low and I’ll provide available and affordable health care for you and your employees,” McCain said, staring straight into the camera.
McCain got a little caught up in the moment and muddled in his message to Joe by saying at one point that “fifty percent of small business income taxes are paid by small businesses.”
Still, Joe the Plumber has become a bit of Internet celebrity and Republicans quickly latched onto his plight, issuing a statement saying his comments to Joe showed that Obama would “tax to death” the American Dream.
Obama’s response was that Joe the Plumber needed a tax cut five years ago, and Obama wants to “make sure that the plumber, the nurse, the firefighter, the teacher, the young entrepreneur who doesn’t yet have money, I want to give them a tax break now. And that requires us to make some important choices.”
As for Joe himself, directory assistance had no telephone listing for him in Toledo, Ohio. If you’re listening, Joe, we’d love to hear how you’re handling fame!
– Photo credit: Reuters/Gary Hershorn (McCain makes a point at the presidential debate)