October 16th, 2008
04:09 PM ET
14 years ago

Biden questions 'notion of this guy Joe the plumber'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/10/16/joe.plumber/art.joe.wurzelbacher.gi.jpg caption="Joe Biden says he doesn't know any plumbers that make $250K."](CNN) - Joe Biden sounded skeptical of “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher’s working-class credentials Thursday.

Watch: 'Joe the plumber' presses Obama

“You notice John [McCain] continues to cling to the notion of this guy Joe the plumber,” Biden said on NBC’s Today show. “I don't have any Joe the plumbers in my neighborhood that make $250,000 a year that are worried.”

Watch: 'Joe the plumber' on debate

“The Joe the plumbers in my neighborhood, the Joe the cops in my neighborhood, the Joe the grocery store owners in my neighborhood - they make, like 98 percent of the small businesses, less than $250,000 a year,” said the Democratic VP nominee. “And they’re going to do very well under us, and they’re going to be in real tough shape under John McCain.”

Watch: Moos: Plumbing the debate

McCain cited Wurzelbacher, who questioned Obama about his tax plan during a recent Ohio campaign swing, as someone would face higher taxes under the Democrat’s economic proposals.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters in the United States in 2007 was $47,350.

Filed under: Joe Biden • Joe the plumber
soundoff (155 Responses)
  1. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    My question was this business that he was going to buy making over $250,000? The tax rates for businesses under Obama going up even for those businesses making $250,000? If it is a sole proprietor, then it could possibly be reported on his own taxes. That would be one good business if it is doing plumbing and making that kind of money.

    October 16, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. Ken

    Perhaps Joe the Plumber saved up money to buy a business for 250k. It is easy to spin by Biden... but doesn't Biden make a lot of references that don't even hold up? Like Katy's Restaurant which has been out of business for 20 years?

    October 16, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. Ken

    Obama now needs to get a commanding victory – not a narrow, close win, but one that provides him with a clear mandate to take this country into an entirely new direction.

    October 16, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  4. jon

    I hate, hate, hate the media. I am a Democrat that always believed the media was so important to our Democracy. The media in this election has been so biased for Obama from the primary through the general election. This has not been a fair fight from the beginning. All the media is interested in is "making history" with this election. People: do not believe anything the media says or does. They are now the most corrupt institution in America.

    October 16, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  5. Deb in Colo

    I don't care about JOE – his job is staying in the US. So sorry that he has to pay his fair share of the tax burden.

    I care about my tech job going to India. What's McCain's plan to stop that migration – haven't heard one word about that from McCain.

    Obama on the other had will penalize companies that ship those jobs overseas.

    October 16, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  6. patnyc

    and, if you figure that Joe the plumber kept talking in terms of revenue, as opposed to the real thing that is taxed – profits – the mccain argument loses more ground, because while revenues might be $250,000, once expenses, like payroll and other items are deducted to reach the taxable profits number, that will clearly be less than $250K, and hence, wont be taxed higher under Obama.

    McCain really shows he's clueless in the area of economics.

    October 16, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  7. Tim

    Joe the plumber's own words were that he is not hurt by Obama's tax plan right now. So he is will get the benefits of Obama's plan and be hurt by John McCain's right now. Old Joe the Plumber was speaking hypothetically when he was talking to Obama. So McCain’s claim that Joe would be hurt by Obama is false!!!

    October 16, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. Yes Obama

    Mccain did out this Joe guy like Valerie Plaime.. I hope Joe gets a huge book deal and goes on Jay Leno.

    As far as any notions of Mccain winning the debate... no, no he didn't. He lsot, and lost very badly. Those people who are saying he won are using faulty, biased polling data at FOX News, and are of course, clinging to their only hope of keeping the voters they currently have by suggesting that he won by arguing that they learned something of Mccain that perhaps clueless Mccain followers didn't pick up. This is a question of ability to comprehend the issues purported last evening and fooling people who didn't get anything that was said.

    October 16, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. g

    My concern with the November election is in reference to a question Bob Shaffer asked each candidate during the debate on October 15th. The question was concerning each of their running mates for the vice presidency. Do they think they are qualified to lead the county if something should happen to each of them while they are president? Neither candidate was willing to give a direct answer to this question.

    Although Senator Obama stated he believe Senator Biden will make an excellent candidate to run the county, Senator McCain was unable or unwilling to give an answer.

    October 16, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  10. Dave from MD

    I asked my cousin, (a plumber like Joe), if he makes more than 250k?He laughed and said, "No. Lucky if I make 38k."

    I don't think "Joe the Plumber" of Holland, OH is a being honest. Not a straight talker.

    October 16, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  11. Johnny

    The "Joe the Plumber" references fell on deaf ears last night. Audience reaction dipped every time the reference was made. It just made McCain look more angry.

    October 16, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  12. Chris Austin

    Im sure most plumbers make 47 grand. however, Joe wants to purchase a company that employs multiple plumbers that will make 47 grand a year. Joe feels that he can make 250 grand or more with the company, not by himself.

    October 16, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |

    Obama is for Joe and me and 95% of American. McBush is for 5% of therich and yes we want to be rich so we can pay tax this is what make the America America not just 5% rich to be richer and make decision for us 95%

    October 16, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  14. TRUTH

    I have donated $100 to the Obama-Biden during the course of this election. On Nov 4th, I'll get my change!


    October 16, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  15. Linda Wallace

    John McCain sounded like an old "senile fool" in keeping on and on and on referring to "Joe the Plumber". What's that got to do with anything? There are lots of "Joe the Plumbers" around but there are about 95% of folks who don't make $250,000 per year who would just like to have a job and be able to put a roof over their heads, food on the table and send their children to college. If "Joe" makes over $250,000 i really don't think he will have to worry much about the tax because of all of the tax shelters that he can readily find! So "get off it John" people are smarter than listening to one old senile fool keeping on and on regarding one man and with one issue!

    Move over John, Barak is taking contro!!

    October 16, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  16. NYConservative

    There is a difference between salary and what a small business makes. I'm sure if theyre able to pay themselves $47000/year their business is making over $250,000. And the 98% figure is including businesses that are set up as formalities for contracts and land deeds that don't actually employ people. The vast majority of small businesses that employ people would be taxed to death under Obama.

    October 16, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  17. Scott

    Right, Joe! People forget that we only tax business PROFITS in this country, not revenues. If the business has a 10% profit margin (which is pretty good) and still makes 250k in profit, that means it has 2.5 million in sales–that's a pretty big plumbing business. Hard to believe, but if it's true, then he should remember that most rich people did pretty good under the upper tax brackets during the Clinton years (which is where Obama would put them).

    October 16, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  18. Matt

    Maybe Biden meets all of those people at the diner where he visits with them that has been closed for 20 years?

    October 16, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  19. Jaime

    Good for Biden! About time someone called this fake Joe (Who's real name is sam) out for lying about what he makes. This man was so obviously paid to walk up to Obama and instigate this "conversation" so that it could be used as McCain's new talking point.

    October 16, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |

    Wow, it amazing that the Obama/Biden ticket comes back with numbers and then the McCain camp comes back with nothing. I don't see how folks are still HOLLERING UNDECIDED!!!


    October 16, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  21. Tony

    I am so glad that Joe is pointing this out. Most people in general don't make that much money.

    Bottom line, those who make more, should pay more.

    October 16, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  22. Denise Colorado

    Right On Joe. Real Straight Talk. And organization was Joe Wurzelbacher a member of that he didn't want to mention to the american public?

    October 16, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. OMG

    I the guy Joe the plumber said he is going to get a new business which earns him more than 250k, not the plumbing business may be. anyway, i still think Obama/Biden 08 and 12.

    October 16, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  24. U-N-I-Verse

    It seems like a lot of people have fallen for the great Republican lie: The claim that tax breaks for big business creates job, that if they have more wealth, it will rain down upon everyone else. Tax breaks for the wealthy DO NOT create jobs, because increased revenue does not create jobs. What's the incentive to hire someone just because you have more money in your pocket? That makes absolutely no sense. They aren't going to hire more people if there's no increase in customer's demand for their product, not matter how much of a tax break you give them. A demand for an increase in production is what creates jobs. If a company's profits increase, they don't reinvest it in more labor unless there's an increase in demand, they just keep the profits. And if there's an increase in demand, they'll hire more people either way because they have to in order to keep up with demand. That's why Republican policies lead to nothing more than increased income disparity and a rise in inflation. Demand comes mostly from the bottom up, which is why it makes more sense to give those tax breaks to consumers who then stimulate the economy by buying goods and services from those businesses.

    October 16, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  25. USAF Staff Sergeant

    My dad used to run a small Heating / Air Conditioning company. I know for a fact he never hit over $250,000.

    People really need to stop listening to McCain's lies as their source of information on Obama's policies.

    If you believe everything you read, then listen to this: McCain supports a "Logan's Run" themed termination age for all Americans once they reach the age of 50. He says this will help with retirement costs. He also wants to not only make abortion illegal, but require every couple produce one male child to serve in his army.

    October 16, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
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