Publicity and Plumbers named Joe

Publicity: n. an act or device designed to attract public interest ; specifically : information with news value issued as a means of gaining public attention or support

Plumber: n. a person who installs and repairs water, drainage, or heating pipes and fixtures in a building. From a Latin word meaning lead.

Much noise is being made over a guy named “Joe” from Ohio who was filmed asking Obama a question about getting his taxes raised if he expanded his plumbing business.  McCain used this incident during the debate last night in an attempt to drive home his point that all the mythical “small businessmen” of America would be screwed by an Obama presidency if they make more than $250,000 a year.

(McCain didn’t mention that this is on PROFIT rather than income. Less than 2 percent of small businesses in the US make more than $250,000 profit.)*

The video encounter made it all over the web and overnight Joe was famous!  At first it was really fun – being on Fox News and all, spouting the R talking points.

But then the media began digging deeper. Turns out he is a registered Republican (surprise!), but:

An official at Local 50 of the plumber’s union, based in Toledo, said Mr. Wurzelbacher does not hold a license. He also has never served an apprenticeship and does not belong to the union.

….

Unlike some other states, Ohio does not have a formal statewide licensing system for plumbers. But the city of Toledo and other municipalities do, Mr. Joseph said, and Mr. Wurzelbacher has not met those requirements.

“All contractors are licensed, and he does not have a license, either as a contractor or a plumber,” the union official said, citing a search of government records. “I can’t find that he’s ever even applied for any kind of apprenticeship, and he has never belonged to local 189 in Columbus, which is what he claims on his Facebook page.”

According to public records, Mr. Wurzelbacher has been subject to two liens, each over $1,000, one of which — a personal tax lien — is still outstanding.

Oops. But there’s more… a racist tinge – here’s what he said to Katie Couric:

“You know, I’ve always wanted to ask one of these guys a question and really corner them and get them to answer a question,” he said, “for once instead of tap dancing around it, and unfortunately I asked the question, but I still got a tap dance.”

He added, “Almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr.”

Here’s what the NY Times says about taxes and small business:

How relevant is Joe’s company to most small businesses in America?

If Joe’s company really makes over $250,000 and is an S-corporation, it might see a tax increase, but it does not reflect the majority of American small-owned businesses.

This is because most small businesses earn much less in profit. In 2009 about 35 million tax returns will report some income from small businesses, according to Roberton Williams, principal research associate at the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. Of these only about 660,000 tax units — or 1.9 percent — would see an increase under Senator Obama’s tax proposal.

Joe probably overstated how much his company makes, though. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean wage for a plumber is $47,930 per year. A plumber in the 90th percentile earns $73,500.

If Joe’s business is less successful than he claims (which it probably is), then it likely won’t see a tax increase under Senator Obama’s plan — and in that respect, is a more relevant model for most Americans who own small businesses.

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