October 16th, 2008
04:09 PM ET
13 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. James

    If Joe the Plumber is making over $250,000 in Ohio, I am moving to Ohio and becoming a plumber!

    With median home price under $100,000.00 in Ohio and dropping, and earning that much money, I don't care what the tax rate is, I am pretty sure I can afford private health insurance, and send my kid to a private school.

    Ohio is a beautiful state, with good diversity (12% African Americans, 2% Asians, 2.5% Hispanics and others).

    Plumbers in California make a pittance compared to what Joe the Plumber in Ohio makes. Maybe Ohio has the widest disparity between the rich and the poor.

    Too many rich Joe the plumbers, and too many hourly shift workers barely making ends meet!

    October 16, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  2. Terry, NJ

    Joe. You're so full of Koolaid... In your neighborhood people make more thant $250K regardless. So not voting for the Koolaidman and his puppet.

    October 16, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  3. Allen Christian

    Would McCain be willing to chat live with "Al the Immigrant", a business owner and IT professional? Yes, I would love to meet with him and "Joe the Plumber" as well.

    October 16, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  4. Truth Be Told

    i was skeptical of this joe the plumber as well soon after mccain mentioned him. how did mccain know about this guy from obama's rally? and mccain kept on mentioning him throughout the debate!

    biden was right, no plumber that i know of, even if he owns the business would make that much in a year, after all the business related expenses. granting this guy's for real, if he owns the business, he should know the front, back and middle of the expenses involved, i.e. salaries, travel (gas, truck maintenance, truck purchases, etc.), expenses relating to maintenance of the office (heating, cooling, cleaning persons, etc.). if he gross $300,000 off it, his net should be way below $250,000. therefore, he is in the tax bracket that obama has been proposing.

    anybody out there who can correct me?

    October 16, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  5. Paul, Riverside, CA











    October 16, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  6. We Demand Our Country Back!

    I'm with Joe on this one. I am not worried about anyone making $250K a year or more. I am worried about people like me that live their life one paycheck behind.

    October 16, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  7. Teresa

    Joe the plumber, has become a running joke because of McCain. Way to treat the voters. I guess McCain thinks all of us voters are here to be made fun of.

    October 16, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  8. Sharon

    I'm with Joe (Biden). My brother's a carpenter, owns his business and subcontracts work to plumbers all of the time. There is no plumber (even if they own their own business) making any where near $250,000.

    This guy has an agenda.

    October 16, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  9. Shari, NY

    This is for HP: To your disliking, Obama might be cool, calm and collected, even flashing a broad smile now and then, but do you notice how straight-faced he is when he gets down to business? These are trademarks of a true diplomat. ARROGANCE gets you into an unprovoked war which in turn claims thousands of innocent lives and leaves permanent scars on surviving loved ones thus breeding more hatred. One reason why loss of life is now waning in Iraq is because some insurgents, it has been said, have been handsomely paid to keep COOL (more money from your pocket). How’s that?

    October 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  10. Roger

    McCain the same old politics with the same failed policies.

    Obama/Biden 2008

    October 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  11. jennie

    “I don't have any Joe the plumbers in my neighborhood that make $250,000 a year that are worried.”

    That's exactly the point!!!
    This "Joe the plumber" topic by McCain is becoming more and more distasteful.

    October 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. Butch Dillon

    Joe the plumber is yet another in a series of McCain stunts. The details offered in the debate suggest that this guy's plumber business is more of a dream than reality and entirely not at risk of being a tax liability for whoever this McCain shill really is. This story has to be picked apart, with the fact separated from the fiction. Until such time as the public knows the truth about Joe the plumber, his story is NOT to be trusted as representative of anything but a campaign lie.

    October 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  13. Patrick

    Leave it to Joe Biden to tell the truth while the media, most of whom wouldn't know a regular person if they fell out of the sky, tow the line that some plumber making $250,000 a year is anything but unusual.

    Joe the Plumber does not represent the average person.

    October 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. Brian Rich


    This is a major point that McCain is missing! If this guy is buying a business that is large enough to profit $250,000/year, he shouldn't be worrying about life right now. People always need plumbers and they aren't going to stop fixing leaky toilets and showers just because the economy is rough. If he was a hot tub salesman, that'd be another thing.

    Joe the Plumber makes more than twice as much money as my parents do, and my parents get by JUST FINE. More importantly, when I was young, we did just fine on half as much as they're making now. So why should I feel bad for Joe the Plumber? My wife and I are college graduates taking home about $30,000/year and we're getting by so-so. I would hope a guy like Joe doesn't have tax problems with a quarter million dollar annual income. If so, let me find him and yell at him for being bad with money.

    October 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. Mary

    Where I live this tax plan will effect many of the small business owners. We have many mom and pop stores, small one branch realty companies, small machine shops and small mechanic shops. Mr. Biden, you are lying and you know it, just as Mr. Obama is. Thanks but no thanks to your tax plan. Oh, and for your information there are millions of Joe the plumbers out there if you care to look.

    October 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. No McPain

    I agree. At first, I thought I misunderstood the situation. I guess a single person making over $250k is considered "poor" to McCain, who is a zillionaire.

    I don't know any single or married people who are making that kind of money. Where did McCain get the idea that this person is average?

    Still love Joe Biden, but I am really sick of Joe Plumber, Joe Six-Pack, and Joe Mama. Stick to the facts – leave the folksy crap to Sarah.

    October 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  17. McBush

    Joe the Plumber has been on some of CNN's competing stations giving some "interesting" interviews, and if McCain was smart, he'd distance himself from this crackpot ASAP. But I hope he doesn't, keep using the plumber John, it'll be another anchor on you just like Ms. Abuse of Power.

    90% Bush + 10% Junk = 100% Loser

    October 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  18. PD Thomas

    Break it down fella's. McCain is totally looking for 'that moment' to change the news and to have 'the average joe' amplify how Obama is not really for the 'average joe'. Don't let him get away with it. If he is buying a business, and his salary alone will be greater than 250K, he is not buying a small business. Additionally, if he is indeed going to be running a business that large...let's do some quick math...

    If he makes 1Million Dollars, Obama would take him for an additional 50K. Sure. But since Obama is offering 3K in tax credits per American worker he hires, in order to bring that 50K down, he needs to hire some US Workers (16). He will also get a tax credit for 50% of what it costs him to insure those workers. If he buys a healthplan worth 100K he would get 50K in tax credits thereby offsetting his worry of 50K. The list goes on and on. America, don't get caught up in this pettiness. People are whining over nothing.

    What makes me nervous, is a guy who is trying to make us believe he is going to take over a business that is going to make him a lot of money can't take the time to review Obama's plans, run the same numbers I just did in about 30 seconds, and realize he is better off with Obama than McCain.

    That is, if he is indeed trying to buy the business. Or is it that he thinks he will get famous enough, make enough money off of the interview circuit or hell, even get his own TV show, and then what? Will he complain as a multi millionaire that he is paying too much intaxes?

    PS...are we really sitting here trying to get those making less than 250K and those below the poverty line who can't even fathom what 250K is that times are tough for those that make more than 250K? REALLY?????

    October 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  19. tr

    That would be because various sites are now reporting that Joe is a registered Republican and also related in some way to the Keatings. Don't worry, I'm gathering up the links and info now. That's too bad really because he has some excellent point but if he's shown to be a phony....

    I figured he might be the moment in one of his press conferences when he said Obama's plans are "socialist". Do people know what the definition of that word is or how many so-called "socialist" programs we already have.

    Socailist is Republican for – FEAR HIM

    October 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. JuTon

    My thoughts exactly Joe!!!

    October 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  21. American Son

    he was a GOP plant. Biden's right. no plumber i know makes $250k per year except for "josephine the plumber" and she only made that because she was being paid by the the execs of" liquid plumber" to advertise their product!!

    no moose-munch & bunch

    obama/biden '08

    October 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  22. Vegas Barbie for Obama

    "Joe the Plumber" got a workout from McCain last night, to be sure. Once it turned into McCain's debate "gimmick" it was over for me. That was really all he had, and when he took it to the Rep. Lewis and Ayers route, his goose was cooked. The fact that Obama consistently brought it back to the issues while old dude cooked in his own juices just further confirmed that Obama will be a fine president indeed.
    OBAMA/BIDEN '08 & '12
    Looking forward to your rally in Henderson, NV tomorrow, Sen. Biden!

    October 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  23. green texan

    Of course Biden disses "Joe the Plumber"... b/c Joe the Plumber doesn't seem to be on Obama's bandwagon... shocker.

    Also, though the mean annual wage for plumbers is $47k a year, I believe "joe's" business involves several plumbers, not just himself, as the "mean income" suggests.

    October 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  24. Lisa

    Was "Joe -the-Plumber" planted by the Republicans???

    October 16, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  25. Chris from NY

    I was saying something similar to my coworkers this morning. I was saying "If I could be a plumber and make over $250k a year sign me up"....last time I checked...Small Plumbing companies aren't hand over fist in $$ and their owners most likely are not making a quarter million dollars a year...McCain knows that less than 5% of Americans make that kind of money. Should the rich be taxed to oblivion? No...but if you make $250k a year...paying another 5-10% on your taxes might mean you have to go from 3 mansions to 2. What a tragedy.

    October 16, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
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