In Defense of Plumberpalooza


Steve Benen is shocked, shocked, that John McCain is hitting Florida with a "Joe the Plumber bus tour."

McCain is exploiting Wurzelbacher for no reason. Under Obama's tax policy, Wurzelbacher would get a tax cut, not a tax increase. Indeed, I don't know the details of Wurzelbacher's finances, but there's reason to believe he'd end up far better off under Obama's tax plan than McCain's.

But Wurzelbacher wasn't asking Obama about what his tax plans would do right now. It was a hypothetical.

I'm getting ready to buy a company that makes about $270-280,000 a year. Your new tax plan's going to tax me more, isn't it?… If I buy another truck and build the company, I'm getting taxed more.

Obama explained to Wurzelbacher, correctly, that now he'd get a tax cut, and if he'd pushed his plan through when Wurzelbacher was making less money than Wurzelbacher would have taken home even more. Obama tried to talk about what Wurzelbacher makes now; Wurzelbacher said Obama would punish him if he "fulfilled the American dream." It's completely fair for McCain to attack Obama's taxes on small businesses (although you can make the case that Obama will save them on health care costs).

The problem with the bus tour is that somewhere along the line McCain lost his grip on the economic argument and turned Joe's story into "honest man versus mainstream media."

Now, Joe didn't ask for Senator Obama to come to his house, and he didn't ask to be famous. And he certainly didn't ask for the political attacks on him from the Obama campaign.

Who cares? No one's lost a dime over Wurzlebacher's bruised feelings. They will lose money if they try to start a small business under Obama. That's the attack! And, typically, McCain is whiffing it because it's easier for him to fight about "honor" than about economics. The whole campaign is running on the Drudge Report—whatever leads there is the attack of the day. It's made it tougher for them to find a winning message.