Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, speaking at an October 27 rally in Leesburg, Virginia, referred to Barack Obama's October 12 conversation about tax policy with Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, the citizen now known as "Joe the Plumber." She said Obama said he "wants to spread the wealth" and that "Joe the Plumber said to him, it sounded like socialism."
Get the facts!
Obama met Wurzelbacher at a campaign stop outside Toledo, Ohio, on October 12, Wurzelbacher told Obama he was getting ready to buy a company that makes $250,000 to $280,000 a year and asked, "Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?" Under Obama's plan, taxes would rise for individuals who make more than $200,000 a year and families with incomes above $250,000.
Obama went into a lengthy explanation of his plan. He said he wants to cut taxes "a little bit more for the folks who are most in need; and for the 5 percent of the folks who are doing very well - even though they've been working hard and I appreciate that - I just want to make sure they're paying a little bit more in order to pay for those other tax cuts."
He argued that if consumers had more money to spend, it would be good for enterprises such as a plumbing business. "Right now everybody's so pinched that business is bad for everybody, and I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
Wurzelbacher invoked a common small-business concern with Obama: that higher taxes compromise hard-earned profits. "I've worked hard. I'm a plumber. I work 10-12 hours a day and I'm buying this company and I'm going to continue working that way. I'm getting taxed more and more while fulfilling the American dream."
He never told Obama at the time his idea "sounded like socialism." But two days later, in an interview on Fox News, Wurzelbacher said, "he wants to distribute wealth. I'm not trying to make statements here. That's kind of a socialist viewpoint."
In an interview with CNN that aired October 16, Wurzelbacher clarified that the company he wants to buy makes well less than $250,000 a year - which, under Obama's plan, means his taxes would not be increased.
McCain and Palin frequently refer to "Joe the Plumber" on the campaign trail. Since his encounter with Obama, Wurzelbacher has received much notoriety and has signaled his support for McCain.
Wurzelbacher told conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham on October 24 that he's considering a run for Congress in 2010. That would pit Wurzelbacher against longtime Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur for Ohio's 9th District on the state's northern border, which includes Toledo and Sandusky.
"I'll tell you what, we'd definitely be in one heck of a fight, Marcy Kaptur definitely has a following in this area," he said of the possibility. "But, you know, I'd be up for it."
Wurzelbacher was expected to campaign with former U.S. Rep. Rob Portman in Ohio on October 28 on behalf of the McCain campaign.
The Verdict: True. However, while Wurzelbacher has said Obama's plan comes from a "socialist viewpoint," he did not say that directly to Obama.