Media Attention For 'Joe the Plumber'
Joe Wurzelbacher isn't a licensed plumber. And, he said Oct. 16, he doesn't need a license, either.
Wurzelbacher became a celebrity of sorts after presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain made "Joe the Plumber" the lynchpin of their debate on taxes and an icon of the working man.
Wurzelbacher said he works for Newell Plumbing and Heating in Holland, Ohio ― a small residential plumbing company ― and, because he's an employee, he doesn't need to have a license.
Joe's newfound celebrity has generated a bit of a stir in the plumbing industry. The morning after the debates in which both candidate spoke both about and to "Joe" about their tax schemes, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors―National Association said it had fielded, "many" calls from the general media. PHCC-NA spokeswoman Charlotte Perham said at least some of the questions from the consumer media centered on the average taxable income of small contractors.
The flurry of media attention for Wurzelbacher was set into motion last weekend when on Oct. 12 he told Obama he had designs on purchasing Newell Plumbing and Heating, a business that reportedly earns more than $250,000 annually. He asked Obama whether the candidate's new plan would increase his taxes.
During the presidential debate Oct. 15, McCain used Wurzelbacher as an example of someone who wants to buy a business but whose chance may be hurt by Obama's tax plans. Obama said that his tax proposal would keep tax rates on any amount less than $250,000 the same, but dollar amounts above that level would be subject to a 39 percent tax rate instead of the 36 percent in place now.
Neither candidate, however, bothered to spend any time as they sparred on the issue to clarify whether the magic $250,000 "income" figure represents gross or net business income or whether it represents gross or adjusted personal wage income. But a new icon of the American working class and budding entrepreneurship was born and stands ready to take his place alongside good old "Joe Sixpack," and their much older sister, "Rosie the Riveter" in the halls of American blue-collar heroes.
Wurzelbacher said he just wishes the whole hubbub would go away and that his 15 minutes of personal fame are about over: "I wished they had talked more about issues that are important to Americans," he said, adding the experience has been overwhelming.