Saturday, October 18, 2008

Of Plumbers and Presidents

The inane stupidity of the "Joe the Plumber" discussion tells us a lot about how out of touch the media is with America. As a "Joe" myself, I'm in a better position to understand Joe the Plumber than, say, Lou Dobbs.

My take is that neither left nor right wing media understands why Joe the Plumber is relevant to the current debate, which is simply because he is representative of many middle income Americans who make about 40-80k per year, would actually benefit in the short term from Obama's tax plans, but don't share Obama's sensibilities about how to run country or the idea that deficit spending is a good idea.

First, Joe does not even come close to making 250k. No plumbers make 250k. Some plumbing *businesses* with several workers might make that in, although many are mom and pops making far less. Lou Dobbs and some McCain folks have *idiotically* asserted that the issue is about Plumbers when it's about small businesses, most of which do not make 250k.

Joe is not a small business - in fact he's not even a plumber. He was (probably wrongly) thinking that if he bought the plumbing place he worked for he'd have trouble paying Obama's taxes, and Obama foolishly just assumed that was true. Unless this is a pretty good sized plumbing business and Joe is a heck of a good businessman it is very unlikely he'll pull in 250k taxable income. Do the math! There are 2000 working hours in a year. Factoring in travel time and such, most plumbers are not going to work that many hours but even assuming they do they'd need to make on average $125 per hour to bring their annual take up to 250k. $125 per hour? Maybe in New York CIty but most places charge far less. But wait there's more.... that's just revenues. You get to deduct expenses, so even if Joe is the best paying guy AND the best business guy AND has several plumbers all pulling in 250k annually for him after he pays them and deducts expenses he'll likely fall where most small businesses fall - under the Obama threshold for tax benefits.

But wait.... that does NOT suggest he should vote for Obama. If he's strongly anti-abortion, or really big on gun rights, or wants military spending to be a huge priority he should probably go with McCain. If he hates Democratic control of politics he should vote Republican.

So, there are plenty of reasons Joe the Plumber might want to vote for McCain.

Taxes, however, are quite ironically not one of those reasons.