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October 16, 2008
'Joe the Plumber' might just change the race
It was a revealing comment by Obama made last weekend during a stop in Ohio. An American citizen confronted him about his plan to raise taxes and rather than the smooth talking, practiced response we've come to expect from Obama, what we got - finally - was the truth.
"Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?" the plumber asked, complaining that he was being taxed "more and more for fulfilling the American dream."
A far cry from "tax the rich." When Obama reveals what he is really after - redistribution and not punitive actions against one class of Americans - people sit up and take notice. Americans may have a certain "leveling" instinct in our history but when it comes to taxes, our fellow countrymen are not stupid. When politicians talk about "spreading the wealth" they know exactly what that means; higher taxes on those who work in order to achieve some kind of "parity."
And Joe the Plumber, the guy who asked Obama that question? He has become an instant celebrity, getting mentioned prominently in the debate last night and appearing on Good Morning America this morning courtesy of the McCain campaign:
ABC's Diane Sawyer: "Well I just want to ask you now about the issue that was raised because it's been a little confusing to me as I tried to sort it out here. To get straight here, you're not taking home $250,000 now, am I right?"
Joe Wurzelbacher: "No. No. Not even close."
Sawyer: "And you were you asking -- about the prospect, the hope that someday you would make $250,000, and you were saying you didn't want that to be taxed?"
Wurzelbacher: "Well, exactly. Exactly. I mean not that I don't want to be taxed. You have to be taxed. But to -- just because you work a little harder to have a little bit more money taken from you, I mean, that's scary. You know as opposed to other people. I worked hard for it. Why should I be taxed more than other people?"
Sawyer: "Well if people making $250,000 should not be taxed additionally -- by the way, it's 3% from 36% to 39% under Senator Obama's plan. If those people should not be taxed additionally, even though they're in the top 5% of America, what about people who make $1 million? Or $5 million?"
Wurzelbacher: "Well, I mean, quite honestly, why should they be penalized for being successful. I mean, that's what you're telling me. That's what it sounds like you're saying. That's wrong. Because you're successful, you have to pay more than everybody else? We all live in this country. It's a basic right. And Obama wants to take that basic right and penalize me for it, is what it comes down to. That's a very socialist view and it's incredibly wrong. I mean, $250,000 now. What if he decides, well you know $150,000, you're pretty rich too. Let's go ahead and lower it again. You know it's a slippery slope. When's it going to stop?"
Is it any wonder Joe the Plumber is rapidly becoming a conservative hero?
Joe brings home the reasons why Obama's plan to "tax the rich" will end up costing everybody. It lessens incentives for those small businessmen who create 80% of the jobs in this country. Fewer jobs means a slowing economy. In our current environment it means a longer, deeper recession.
Will Joe's comments about Obama and his common sense about taxes make people sit up and take notice? There's a real chance of that happening. And it won't be to Obama's advantage if it does.
One cautionary note; the drumbeat has already started on the left to smear Joe the Plumber. They are looking into his background trying to find anything detrimental to use against him. I'm sure he didn't ask for this. But he is about to become an issue in the campaign.
Whether his outing of Obama as a redistributionist will alter the race in some key states remains to be seen.