Joe the Plumber’s tax bill

JOE THE PLUMBER’S TAX BILL…. I’m reluctant to add to the attention being heaped on Joe Wurzelbacher, also known as “Joe the Plumber,” who received an inordinate amount of attention during last night’s debate. He’s a Republican voter, going on television repeating Republican rhetoric. This isn’t exactly newsworthy.

While there’s quite a bit of interest in Wurzelbacher’s life this morning, I’m very much inclined to steer clear of, say, peeking in his windows to look at his kitchen countertops. It’s not Wurzelbacher’s fault he’s suddenly the subject of so much attention, and there’s no reason to violate his privacy.

But given his comments about Obama’s tax policies, and the way they’ve been amplified by news outlets, there may be some confusion about the details of the policy dispute. It’s worth clarifying the facts.

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. […]

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.

Exactly. Based on the reports this morning, the profits of Wurzelbacher’s small business are well under $250,000, so Obama’s proposal wouldn’t adversely affect him at all. He’s apparently concerned that he may someday have those kinds of profits, though, which is obviously his prerogative. In the meantime, depending on some of the details, Wurzelbacher would probably get a tax break under Obama’s plan, and if he’s like most of the middle class, his break would be bigger under Obama than under McCain.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.