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McCain Ad: We Are All 'Joe the Plumber'

By Howard Kurtz
The Ad:
(BARACK OBAMA): I think when you spread the wealth around it's good for everybody.
(1st WOMAN): I'm Joe the plumber.
(2nd WOMAN): I'm Joe the plumber.
(3rd WOMAN): I'm Joe the plumber.
(NARRATOR): Spread the wealth?
(1st MAN): I'm supposed to work harder...
(2nd MAN): Just to pay more taxes.
(3rd MAN): Obama wants my sweat to pay for his trillion dollars in new spending?
(4th WOMAN): I'm Joe the plumber.
(NARRATOR): Barack Obama. Higher Taxes. More Spending. Not Ready.

Analysis:This John McCain ad is based on a faulty premise.

The "ordinary" folks who say in succession that they are like Joe Wurzelbacher, the Ohio plumber constantly invoked by the Republican nominee, are meant to convey that they, too, are working-class Americans. But if they are anywhere near the income status of Joe the plumber, they would receive a tax cut under Barack Obama's plan -- not, as the commercial suggests, a tax hike.

Obama would raise taxes on those earning more than $250,000 a year, which is why the ad carefully skirts any mention of income. Wurzelbacher, who makes roughly $40,000 a year, has acknowledged that his taxes would be cut by the Obama proposal. His complaint to the Democratic nominee during a campaign stop about having to pay higher taxes was based on the hope that one day he would buy a business and earn more than six times his current pay.

The "spread the wealth" remark, captured on videotape as the senator from Illinois talked to Wurzelbacher, is fair game for political attack. The unidentified people who complain that Obama would take more of their income to pay for government spending undoubtedly reflect a widespread resentment among taxpayers. But redistributing wealth -- that is, taking a bigger slice from the affluent than from those in lower brackets -- has long been a feature of the progressive income tax. The Obama campaign disputes the trillion-dollar figure and says the candidate has made clear how he will pay for new spending -- in part through the higher levy on upper-income taxpayers.

Joe the plumber has become a potent symbol for the McCain campaign, but as this ad demonstrates, his circumstances don't fit the charge that Obama would raise taxes on plumbers, and others, in his financial situation.

Posted at 9:21 AM ET on Oct 22, 2008  | Category:  Ad Watch
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Comments

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(1st WOMAN): I make over $250,000/yr
((2nd WOMAN): I make over $250,000/yr
((3rd WOMAN): I make over $250,000/yr
((NARRATOR): Spread MY wealth?
((1st MAN): I'm supposed to work...
((2nd MAN): Just for the common good?
3rd MAN): Obama wants me to pay my fair share of taxes like a REAL PLUMBER?
(4th WOMAN): I make over $250,000/yr
(NARRATOR): McCain. Lower Taxes for the Rich. More Corprate Welfare. Erratic.

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 22, 2008 11:50 AM

Posted by: MDickey28 | October 22, 2008 11:37 AM

Our very own online concert for Obama/Biden '08

Leesha Harvey- Coal Train (Original)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VItmtAuWz0w


John Mellencamp - Small Town
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eDkAG3R0h8

Bruce Springsteen - Radio Nowhere
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmLt6kcZ72Q

Posted by: YeilRaven | October 22, 2008 11:26 AM

And for the record, only the top 5% income bracket are "Joe the Plumber," if you're talking about taxes. The rest of us get a tax cut under Obama's plan.

Posted by: bokonon13 | October 22, 2008 11:19 AM

Jake, wouldn't it be funny if you found out that Joe the Plumber was pro-choice?

Posted by: bokonon13 | October 22, 2008 11:17 AM

thebobbob:

See my comments on the "RNC Spends $150k" thread.

Sincerely,

Joe the Plumber

Posted by: JakeD | October 22, 2008 11:14 AM

The nation's supposed to rally behind Joe the Plumber? Joe the Plumber is just some guy who's got a chip on his shoulder because he watches too much Bill O'Reilly, and directs his anger in the wrong directions.

Posted by: johnc_80 | October 22, 2008 11:07 AM

JakeD posted "They've fallen down probing BOTH sides."

Finally! I agree with you on something.

I just think the fell down EIGHT YEARS ago.

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 22, 2008 11:05 AM

Boy, if there are this many Joe the Plumbers, the IRS is sure going to be busy tracking down tax cheats!

Posted by: BillinChicago1 | October 22, 2008 11:02 AM

Sarah's 150K clothing and accessory bill would sure go along way to paying off Joe's back-taxes. tell me again how he was going to start his 'successful' plumbing business when he's not even licensed?

01/20/09. End of an Error!!

Posted by: thebobbob | October 22, 2008 10:59 AM

I've never "cheered" the media. They've fallen down probing BOTH sides.

Posted by: JakeD | October 22, 2008 10:51 AM

JakeD "My name is Joe the Plumber today.

That's funny. It says "JakeDidiot" at the bottom of your posts.

Put your pants back on--you played plumber long enough today.

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 22, 2008 10:49 AM

Were u referring to me? My name is Joe the Plumber today.

Posted by: JakeD | October 22, 2008 10:46 AM

Please GOP continue to use Michelle Malkin as your message consultant! Read "The Corner" for insights into how best to appeal to American voters. This is going to be great!

Posted by: LeRiverend | October 22, 2008 10:45 AM

COME ON! JakeD!

The "media" ,as you so quaintly put it, made your sex fantasy Palin what she is today.

A BRIGHT SHINY CELEBRITY!

you should be thankful.

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 22, 2008 10:45 AM

Ah yes, it's that damn liberal media!

If they were doing this to the Obama campaign, you'd be cheering your head off. Don't blame the media when it's convenient for you - that's hypocrisy at it's finest.

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | October 22, 2008 10:45 AM


(1st WOMAN): I make over $250,000/yr
((2nd WOMAN): I make over $250,000/yr
((3rd WOMAN): I make over $250,000/yr
((NARRATOR): Spread MY wealth?
((1st MAN): I'm supposed to work...
((2nd MAN): Just for the common good?
3rd MAN): Obama wants me to pay my fair share of taxes like a REAL PLUMBER?
(4th WOMAN): I make over $250,000/yr
(NARRATOR): McCain. Lower Taxes for the Rich. More Corporate Welfare. Erratic.

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 22, 2008 10:41 AM

Sure, its only been unbiased "media" attacking Joe.

Posted by: JakeD | October 22, 2008 10:40 AM

JakeD, come on! "Who would have imagined the Democratic candidate would attack a regular Joe"

He ain't no regular Joe. He's some jerk who's trying talkin poop. In my neighborood, he'd be the laughing stock for trying to blow that smoke and probably would get is ass kicked.

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 22, 2008 10:37 AM

I'm not Joe the Plumber.

I pay my taxes.
I think Social Security is a good idea.

(News Flash: Joe, when you finish your "career" in plumbing, I am 95% sure that Social Security will be your only retirement income.)

Look, the very purpose of government is to spread the wealth. If government does not redistribute wealth in some fashion that is perceived to be equitable, revolution results. You can go look it up. Sometimes it's too much (the American Revolution) sometimes it's not enough (the French Revolution). The fact is that the inequality in wealth in this country is the largest it's been since the Great Depression. Fortunately, during the Great Depression the government stepped in and there was a massive redistribution of wealth from the very rich to people who had nothing. If FDR and Congress hadn't done so, why then the poor would have taken advantage of their Second Amendment rights and hunted down the rich folk and killed them.

Redistribution of wealth is a GOOD THING, from a practical point of view. I'd also argue that it's morally required as well, but there are people out there who don't believe in helping their neighbors, unless they actually live in the same rich neighborhood.

Posted by: dpc2003 | October 22, 2008 10:37 AM

Yes, because in JakeD's bizarro world, it's John McCain who's coming to Joe's defense from Democratic attacks. Here's the real timeline, and let me know which parts of this are wrong:

Joe talks to Barack Obama during campaign stop. Obama explain his tax plan.
Video goes viral.
John McCain brings up Joe 20 times during the last debate (falsely) as an example of someone who would be hurt by Obama's tax plan.
Joe becomes a media superstar, doing dozens of TV interviews.
Media determines that Joe isn't really quite who he says he is - doesn't make anywhere near $250k, isn't a licensed plumber, hasn't paid his taxes, etc.
John McCain claims the Obama campaign is attacking Joe.

That's how things happened in the real world.

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | October 22, 2008 10:24 AM

I also think Jake should mention Barack HUSSEIN Obama's middle name as often as possible. Now, if we could just get McCain to start doing it on the stump, I think we'd have a surefire strategy for victory. Oh, and the drugs. Much more about the drugs, please.

Posted by: zukermand | October 22, 2008 10:24 AM

"The "spread the wealth" remark, captured on videotape as the senator from Illinois talked to Wurzelbacher, is fair game for political attack"
====================

...if one is willing to distort its meaning, I suppose. I do hope the McCain campaign continues to rely heavily on Joe, Ayers and real americans, hopefully with some added Rev Wright, for the next two weeks. I think this is an excellent strategy.

Posted by: zukermand | October 22, 2008 10:19 AM

Who would have imagined the Democratic candidate would attack a regular Joe (that IS his middle name, but I know you Obamaniacs are scared of middle named), forcing the Republican candidate to defend Joe? A topsy-turvey campaign, it has been.

Posted by: JakeD | October 22, 2008 10:19 AM

I'M "Joe the Put-In-Your-Pipe-Dream-and-Smoke-It Pseudo Plumber"!

I'll vote for McCain/Vapid just because...just because...

I LIKE BRIGHT SHINY OBJECTS!

Yeah that's it, that's it!

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 22, 2008 10:17 AM

But...it's all the mccain camp has left - lies and deception.

Shameful.

Posted by: notfooledbydistractions | October 22, 2008 10:11 AM

jAKED urped: Today, I am "Joe the Plumber" too.

Yes, but only because you like with pipes.

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 22, 2008 10:10 AM

McCain's betting on the worst of america, the gullible, the mean-spirited, the selfish, and the stupid.

America, please be better than McCain depends on you to be.

Posted by: lonquest | October 22, 2008 10:01 AM

I am Spartacus! (Ok, not really.)

John McCain, you are NOT Joe the plumber, you're not even John the usefully employed, you're Gigolo Jack!

Has McCain entered his second childhood? His campaign tactics seem to keep getting more juvenile by the day.

Posted by: lonquest | October 22, 2008 9:58 AM

Today, I am "Joe the Plumber" too.

Posted by: JakeD | October 22, 2008 9:58 AM

(1st WOMAN): I make $250,000/yr
((2nd WOMAN): I make $250,000/yr
((3rd WOMAN): I make $250,000/yr
((NARRATOR): Spread MY wealth?
((1st MAN): I'm supposed to work...
((2nd MAN): Just for the common good?.

Posted by: thenotoriousflavio | October 22, 2008 9:53 AM

Posted by: scrivener50 | October 22, 2008 9:47 AM

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