Oops – How Embrarrassing

I don’t know if I’d chalk this error up to tiredness.  I think it is a campaign that has poor communication.  Keep in mind, after Joe’s rants over the last couple of days…the McCain campaign may want a lower profilefor the actual ‘Joe the Plumber’

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“Joe the Plumber” – His Income Math Doesn’t Work, oh – and is he Real?(updated)

**two updates: 1) Joe would buy the business for 250K and 2) Joe has ties to Charles Keating (aka Keating Five).  As I mentioned to my wife, Joe was going to regret being in the spotlight, all his ghosts are going to come out**

The Daily Kos has an interesting mini-expose on “Joe the Plumber”.  Research can be a little fuzzy right now as facts are checked, but what it looks like is the story being projected may not match reality.  First, through searching several Ohio databases, no Joe Wurzelbacher shows up as being licensed as a plumber.  Second, he does not show up as a registered Republican.  But, not so fast!  The Toledo Blade does turn up his name as Joe Worzelbacher with the matching address is a registered Republican.

But wait, it gets better. Actually, I’ll let the Daily Kos diarist say it in the most elequent way:

During last night’s presidential debate, we heard a lot about “Joe the Plumber,” also known as Joe Wurzelbacher, an average (ahem) Joe, who is really worried that a President Obama might raise his taxes. But does Joe really need to worry? Because if he’s the same Joe that ABC Newsidentified as Sam Joe Wurzelbacher, also of Toledo, Ohio, he doesn’t always bother to pay his taxes.

LUCAS COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS
J. BERNIE QUILTER, CLERK
700 ADAMS STREET
TOLEDO, OHIO

MONETARY AMOUNT: $1,182.98

DEPT OF TAXATION STATE OF OHIO

Defendant 1:
WURZELBACHER SAMUEL J
30 DERBYSHIRE RD
TOLEDO, OH  43615

There is a lot of talk now that Joe was planted by the Republican campaign.  Supporters of this theory point to the examples above, as well as the fact he is using nearly the identical talking points of the McCain campaign.  I tend to believe this was simply a Republican who had a serendipitous turn of events that put him in the spotlight.  The McCain campaign missed doing their homework, if he was planted, by not figuring out he owed back taxes.

Now, some other thoughts on this ‘Joe’.  First, he doesn’t own the business yet, so he isn’t being taxed for it.  Second, it is very unclear whether revenue generated by his business would be $250K or his profit would be $250K.  This is a BIG difference.  If he had a profit of $250K, then he would be taxed under Obama’s plan at a higher rate.  However, if he earned $250K as revenue and then subtracted out expenses (employees, trucks, building, supplies), he would be below the $250K threshold.  Joe Biden makes a good point, but one I don’t know if is accurate – how many plumbers make 250K/annually.   It’s plausible, if he worked 2080 hours a year at $120 an hour.  But if he had any expenses at all, he’d drop below that number.  I used a Consumer Checkbook survey of rates for local plumbers in the high cost of living area of DC to determining an average plumber rate – it came out to be $84/hour (based on the top ten reviewed plumbers in DC).  To make $250K at $84/hour would mean he would work 2976 hours – that’s 43% overtime or 11 hour every day for a year (no vacation/holidays).  I haven’t even adjusted downward for the cost of living in Ohio.  So, if he made $250K, it would mean he probably has at least one other person working for him.  The median income for a plumber is 38K year (giving him the benefit of the doubt as a junior plumber).  So, if that is true, he could be over the $250K threshold (2080 hrsX$84/hourX2 people= $349K).  Before expenses and other deductions, it would be about $300K.  But, remember Joe isn’t licensed, so he would have to hire an additional full time person.  This one, I will not give him the benefit of the doubt for experience.  A licensed senior plumber averages $51K/annually, which would put him at $260K of profit before other expenses.

To summarize, if Joe owned a plumbing business and he hired two people to work for him – one junior and one senior AND they worked at least 2080 hours (which means they would not get any holidays or vacation) AND had no expenses AND no other business deductions – he might clear $260K as profit for the business.  But there are expenses: supplies, licenses, vehicles, computer, building, utilities, cell phones, etc.)

Regardless, even if Joe’s story was true, 98% of the businesses in the Country fall below this $250K threshhold.    That would also be in the top 3-4% of wage earners in this country.  Finally, even if he was right at the 250K threshhold, he’d STILL pay less taxes. Why? Because our tax system is progressive in respect to only income over each bracket is taxed at the higher rate.  So all of Joe’s income from $1-$200K would get Obama’s tax break.  From $200-$250K he’d give you no break.  ABOVE 250K you’d pay additional taxes.  But since you are paying less for your first $200K, you still will be paying less right at $250K.