Joe the Plumber under attack - McCain to the rescue

Jake Turcotte

It's the price of fame.  Maybe Joe the Plumber had it right yesterday when he felt all the media publicity turned him into Britney Spears.

New best friend John McCain is sticking up for the plumber (who actually does have a real last name -- it's Wurzelbacher).  McCain told a crowd in Miami that Joe is under unfair attack.

"The response from Senator Obama and his campaign yesterday was to attack Joe," he said.  "People are digging through his personal life and he has TV crews camped out in front of his house. He didn't ask for Senator Obama to come to his house. He wasn't recruited or prompted by our campaign. He just asked a question. And Americans ought to be able to ask Senator Obama tough questions without being smeared and targeted with political attacks."


Rodney Dangerfield said it best, "Tough crowd, I tell ya'.  Tough crowd."

Just two nights ago, Joe the Plumber was the toast of the town.  All but the centerpiece of John McCain's planned comeback, with the Republican nominee mentioning the Toledo resident more than 20 times during the final debate, the quasi-plumber is now experiencing the backlash of getting involved in high-stakes politics.


Who can criticize the guy for wanting to get involved in the political process? Civic participation is what our citizens are urged to do. Be a part of the solution. Get involved. Everybody's vote counts.

If you become influential, however, there's a price to pay. And no one became more influential more quickly (save Sarah Palin) in the last few months than Joe the Plumber.


He became an instant hero for conservatives who became electrified when hearing the average blue-collar Joe skeptically question the Democratic nominee for president.

Conservative talk show hosts pleaded on their programs for McCain to bring up the plumber's showdown with Obama.

McCain did. A lot.


And now Joe is facing some scrutiny.

Turns out he doesn't have a plumber's license.

Does he need one to practice his trade? A quick Google search on the topic brings us to a credible source -- the movie Weird Science -- where plumbing was discussed.

Lisa:  What do you do for a living Al?
Al: I'm an independent businessman.
Gary: My Dad's a plumber. He's into plumbing. I guess you plumb, right, Dad?
Al: Yeah.

That does us little good, but it's still a good movie. Moving on...


Let's go to back to Ohio. The Toledo Blade reports that "Mr. Wurzelbacher said he works under [his employer's] license, but according to Ohio building regulations, he must maintain his own license to do plumbing work.  He is also not registered to operate as a plumber in Ohio- which means he's not a plumber."

Does that do any damage to the story?  "Joe the Not-Really-a-Plumber" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.


But some say, who cares?  Money writer Matt Bandyk over at U.S. News and World Report says license-schmisence.

"It's not clear to me how it's deceptive to call yourself a plumber when you do plumbing work for a licensed plumbing company, even if you are not the owner of said company," he writes.  "Maybe that's not good enough for the plumber's union to consider you a plumber, but for 95 percent of people, that job description sounds like 'plumber.'"


What about the tax argument and the claim that Obama's tax plan would hit Plumber harder if enacted?  That stands up, according to the Tax Foundation.

If his adjusted gross income was $280,000, he would pay $773 more in taxes under an Obama plan.


But is the $280,000 attainable?  Not according to the plumbers union.

The Association of Plumbers, Steamfitters and Service Mechanics disputes it.  A spokesman for the group, according to Reuters, says the profession just doesn't pay that much.

"If there's a plumber or pipefitter making more than $250,000, we want to know where he's working," laughed Tony Herrera.  "We don't make that kind of money."


Further, according to Bloomberg, the firm that Wurzelbacher wants to buy doesn't bring in enough for him to be affected.

The company McCain said the plumber wants to buy has annual sales of $510,000, according to an analysis by Dun & Bradstreet," Bloomberg reports.  "That makes it unlikely that Wurzelbacher's purchase would give him a taxable income of more than $200,000 – leaving him unaffected by Obama's proposal to roll back tax breaks for those earning more than $250,000, said Steven Bankler, a certified public accountant in San Antonio, who counts plumbers and other trade professionals as his clients.


But we're totally missing the point says conservative blogger Michelle Malkin:

"Under an Obama-Biden administration, they’ll make sure no Joe The Plumbers ever earn such a salary. “It’s good for everybody,” don’t you know?" Malkin writes.


Plumber or no plumber, McCain running mate Sarah Palin considers him a plumber and brought him up today to many cheers while in Ohio.

"It’s a choice between a candidate who will raise your taxes, and that threatens our future, and a leader going to Washington to work for the people like Joe the Plumber, and millions like Joe the Plumber who are struggling to sustain a small business," Palin said. "We want to cut taxes and our opponent wants to raise them."


So what's up next for Joe the kinda-sorta-quasi-Plumber?

He's appearing on former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's talk show on Saturday night.  According to FOX, "Wurzelbacher will be giving his first in-studio interview since he burst on the national political landscape after questioning Barack Obama's tax policies during a rally in Ohio, where Wurzelbacher works for a plumbing company."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to Joe the Plumber under attack - McCain to the rescue
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today