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. Susie

    Go Joe. It was so frustrating to see McCain completely ignore Obama's explanations last night and instead state obvious mistruths. Just made him look either desparate or just plain stupid.

    Anyone notice Ms. Palin, once again, is absent from all the post-debate discussions? NBC commented that she was invited but declined to appear, and I am sure the same can be said about the other media as well. She can only be trusted to interview with Fox, yet we are supposed to put her in a position to meet with heads of state from around the world.

    October 16, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  2. James

    But then again. Joe the Plumber might be faking it. He may be a diehard Republican, where race is an issue!

    October 16, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. Janet

    Talking about information overload. I'm stuffed with pundits patisan's opinions and attacks. My head is so full of spin i'm starting to think that the media has not really been a help with facts but more of a retail chain selling partisan talking points. Geeze, the people always loose out at the end as big giant corporate elitist groups run the show. well, it is what it is...

    so i concluded this after last nights debate.

    Obama, i felt made more of a request to voters...essentially saying "believe in my words and trust me to get this country to a better place"

    Mccain, i felt made more of a plea to voters...essentially saying "help me to help you to get this country to a better place"

    decisions decisions decisions....should i listen to a politician who's asking me to help him to help myself and my country? or should i listen to a politician who's asking me to listen and trust him to help the country?

    hmmm, still undecided but i'm getting close. I'll turn off the tv from now til election day and will make my decision.

    October 16, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. Tina

    I was very perplexed about this during the debate last night. It seemed to me that again we had words and perception challenges. When Joe the Plumber says he wants to buy a business making over $250,000 does he actually mean true profit meaning dollars that would transfer as income to his tax form or is he talking before business expenses such as insurance, telephone, etc are taken out? I may need to think about the plumbing business if you can make that kind of margin dollars!! 12 hour days are becoming the norm anyhow in service businesses.

    October 16, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  5. amconfused

    i think Biden is right......i think Obama was set up by the republican..the plumber was sent by the republicans to to boost their campaign...

    shame on the REPUBLICANS....

    October 16, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  6. MLD ND

    If Joe the Plumber is able to buy his own business and will make more then 250K, then he's doing really good and I don't worry about him. It's the rest of us who's wages aren't going up along with everything else that I worry about. Joe the Plumber will do just fine if he gets in that tax bracket.

    October 16, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  7. Patty

    Well stated, Joe. I don't know of any plumbers who make $250,000 a year either. If so, there would be more kids entering these programs post high school...I don't see that happening in my neighborhood.

    October 16, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  8. nld

    A plumber making 250K is possible. You should see the houses they live in and the cars they drive in my neighborhood...
    I took a serious interest in plumbing a few years ago when one of them wanted 165 dollars for replacing a broken pipe under my kitchen sink.
    A trip to home depot and 20 dollars later for a pipe and wrench and my new hobby was born....

    October 16, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  9. Bill

    Oh, I feel so bad for Joe the Plumber. He makes $250,000+ a year. Why doesn't he just shut up and thank his lucky stars that he's not like the other 95% of the country, not making $250,000

    October 16, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. Ken in Dallas

    If Joe the Plumber makes more than $250,000 a year after expenses, he's doing it by profiting from the the work of other plumbers he doesn't pay anything close to $250,000 a year. In other words, in addition to the work Joe does, Joe's skimming profits off of the work other people do. Did Joe really earn all that extra cream himself? Should Joe's employees pay the cost of infrastructure that enables them to drive Joe's truck around doing Joe's business, when Joe keeps most of the profits for himself?

    This is the argument for a progressive tax: business owners and employers benefit more from infrastructure and other government services than their employees, because they keep the lion's share of the profit generated by their employees' work. Why should the employees share equally in the taxes when they don't share equally in the fruits of their labor?

    October 16, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. CMJ

    John McCain said "Joe, congratulations, you're rich"....I'm starting to think the reason why McCain doesn't like Obama's ideas of putting the tax levels for the rich up to where they were under Reagan – is because he and Cindy stand to lose more money that way. They don't want to pay their fair share. Even Warren Buffet says he doesn't think its right he pays LESS than his secretary in taxes. Does that sound right to you? No one want so make the "rich" suffer for goodness sake – but why do they get all the breaks and regular people get less?

    October 16, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  12. Todd

    What Biden says is typical of someone that hasn't written a paycheck since 1972, when he entered Congress.

    Unless it is a an old time communist society, someone has to own the business that pays the average plumber $47,000, and in a lot of states, you have to be a licensed plumber, too. If you have three or four plumbers in your business, you have to gross at least $250,000 to pay them, and have some money left over for yourself. This is something neither Obama nor Biden understand, or if they do it makes them socialist/fascist dictators.

    If you are "spreading the wealth around", you have to STEAL it from somebody else.

    October 16, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  13. Mick

    Poor old Joe, only $250,000 a year, how does he get by?

    October 16, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  14. Tony in MT

    Not related, but worth mentioning....

    Last night in his closing comments and today in his new ad, McCain is critical of the "last 8 years", as he should be. But by stopping at 8 years, isn't he indirectly praising Bill Clinton's presidency? Isn't he saying that if you want to go back to how things were 9 years ago, you need a democrat in the White House? I couldn't agree more! Thanks John!!!

    October 16, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  15. That one is Karl Marxs friend too

    Say it ain't so Joe. You are going to tax us don't lie. And please tell me the story about spreading the wealth once more. Please tell me how you are going to tax big business. We need them to release more employees so we can use more of the programs you are going to tax us for..

    October 16, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  16. Chris

    Yeah, I kind of wondered about that myself. No offense to this particular Joe (the plumber) I wish him all the success in the world, but I don't know many plumbers that make 250k a year...or create tons of jobs for out of work Americans.

    October 16, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  17. "The Plumber"

    Biden is a idiot. If he had listened right he was going to buy a company with a income of $250,000. That doesnt mean Joe himself will take that in for pure profit. Obviously he has to pay his employees, other bills, etc, etc. Obviously Biden himself needs to take an ECONOMICS 101 to rethink his option!

    October 16, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  18. Jim Rock

    Absolutely right. to think we devoted 30 minutes to talking about a plumber making 250K and no one ever mentioned that it was a complete abberation.

    October 16, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. JohnGalt

    Joe the plumber isn't the American who is hurting, Obama isn't the career politician who promises he will make every American happy, because that's not reality, that's the dusty old political strategy. Life isn't fair, Joe the plumber is already living the American dream.

    October 16, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  20. Curtis

    Hmmmm, I smell a rat. Do you think Mcshame planted this guy but failed to research the average plummer salary:)

    October 16, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  21. Laszlo in L.A.

    I'm not going to lose any sleep over anyone in this country – whether he's an investment banker or a plumber – who makes more than $250,000 a year.

    Wurzelbacher has been blessed with pretty good fortune, it sounds like, and instead of wanting to hoard even more money for himself, he might do well to think about giving something back to the country that enabled some of his success.

    October 16, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  22. Anonymous

    Joe the Plumber is a confused individual. Obama's plan would raise taxes on BUSINESS OWNERS who's own PERSONAL INCOME is over $250,000 a year. NOT businesses who generate more than $250,000 in sales a year. That would be ridiculous, $250,000 is nothing to a small business. I work for a small business and we generate millions annually. McCain's plan is to confuse the American people and unfortunately Obama isn't doing a great job of explaining his plan to the average citizen. Let's face it, if you're making over $250,000 a year you're VERY well off!

    October 16, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  23. Rose

    I can't understand why Joe the Plumber is so scared of a 3% tax increase (provided that he and his company net over $250,000) if he gets better health care, better education for his children, better free trade agreements, more fuel efficient transportation, and more attention to global warming. I think his standard of living would definitely be better under an Obama presidency and more than outweigh the 3% tax increase.

    October 16, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  24. Richie

    I don't think Joe "the plumber" knows the difference between revenue (not taxed) and profit (taxed). Also, Joe "the plumber"'s comments regarding Sammy Davis Jr make it clear that his issues is not taxes, but race.

    October 16, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  25. Ex-Republican for Obama

    McCain wants to take the money of 95% of americans and give it to Joe. This is nothing more then a welfare hand out, disquised as a tax cut for the rich.

    Obama wants Joe to have to make his money the good ole fashioned honest way, with hard work. This will help curb the devestating economic disaster we are in, where the poor get poorer because they are taxed and having their taxes go to help the rich get richer.

    October 16, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
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