Fact-Checking ‘Joe The Plumber’

During a campaign stop in Ohio this week, Ohio plumbing business owner Sam Joe Wurzelbacher questioned Barack Obama about his plan to increase taxes for the top five percent of income earners. Noting that he was planning to purchase a company that “makes” between $250,000 and $280,000, Wurzelbacher wondered what impact Obama’s tax plan would have on him.

Last night, “Joe the Plumber” was first invoked by John McCain to attack Obama’s tax plan. He was referenced 23 times by the candidates. After the debate, Wurzelbacher applauded McCain: “He’s got it right as far as I go.” But Joe is ill-informed.

Jake Tapper reports that it’s not even clear if the figures Wurzelbacher cited take expenses into account. If his net profit is below $250,000, “Joe the Plumber” would be eligible for an Obama tax cut. Dean Baker explains that, under Obama’s plan, the tax on income above $250,000 would increase by 3 percentage points from 33 percent to 36 percent — which means that, if his net profits are above $250,000, Wurzelbacher could expect to see his tax bill rise by between $0-$900, hardly a crippling blow to his small business.

Wurzelbacher told the CBS Morning News that he feels like he’s being “used by the Republican Party as a pawn to make their point.” During a press conference this morning, “Joe the Plumber” answered some questions from the media. He said he was “bothered” by the fact that his name was invoked so many times. “To be honest with you, I’m sure Obama didn’t want my name mentioned,” he said. “I wish they had talked about, you know, more important issues.” Watch it:

Wurzelbacher isn’t just wrong about Obama’s tax plan — he’s also misguided about a few other things. Here’s a sampling of what he told the press this morning:

— “Social Security’s a joke. I have parents. I don’t need another set of parents called the government. Let me take my money and invest it how I please. Social Security, I’ve never believed in, don’t like it, hate that it’s forced on me.”

— “I’m not sorry that we’re in Iraq. … We’ve liberated another country. I mean, you know, freedom. … I don’t know if you guys are Christians or not, but it’s like someone coming to Jesus and becoming saved. These guys have freedom. … Has it kept us safe? Absolutely. I believe in that 100 percent.”


Wurzelbacher said the McCain campaign called him “and asked me to attend one of their rallies, but I’ll be in New York over the weekend, so I haven’t.”


,”Joe the Plumber” does not have a plumbing license.