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. Seattle Sue

    You are misinformed if you think a business(small or large) pays income tax on gross revenue. They pay taxes after all expenses and deductions, this is called net income. If Joe Plumber is paying tax on line 43 of 1040 form of $250,000,00 then Joe Plumber is making one heck of a lot of money.

    October 16, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  2. JohnWinNC

    "Joe the Plumber" supports McCain, so do others. Obama made no attempt to twist his arm, misrepresent the facts or manipulate voters as McCain did for the entire debate. The election is not about "Joe" voting against his personal best interests. This election is about common interests, goals, and dreams for America. Nov. 4th is about "Tom, Dick, and Harry" who are tired of Bush/McCain leadership and policies and want the "new direction" that Barack/Biden offer.

    October 16, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  3. Jim, Colorado

    Why is it no one has picked up on Mccains statement on education? QUOTE ,we need to encourage programs such as teach for america and troops to teach where people after having served in the military, can go right to teaching and not have to take these examinations which or have the certification that some are required in some states.Sorry to change the subject, but are we to allow just anyone to enter our schools with no certification to teach our children? This is insane.

    October 16, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. jp,michigan

    Binden out of touch as usual. Joe the Plumber started his small business , so he has other plumber working for and with him. So a plumbing business can make $250,000 or better a year. WAKE UP JOE IT"S 2008!

    October 16, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. Linda

    What a dummy! The $250,000.00 is what a business would make, gross, before deducting expenses, parts, etc. Why, oh Why do we have such dummies leading our government. That $250,000.00 is not what Joe the Plumber would earn as a personal income. It is what his business would earn and Obama would take away to give to someone else. The Robin Hood theory. If Obama become president and implements this I and many people I know will quit our jobs so that Obama can support us. No incentive to keep working.

    October 16, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. Anonymous

    joe the plumber is talking about after he purchased the business and then i would hope that he would make more the 47,000 leave the man alone. Is Obama afraid that someone will see through the fact that he is not telling the whole truth about raising taxes!!

    October 16, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  7. Justin, ny

    Biden's right – on Katie Couric this morning they did a phone interview with Joe the Plumber, and he admitted that under Obama's plan he would NOT see his taxes raised. for what its worth, however, he's still voting for mccain, basically because he doesn't "trust" obama. hmmmm

    obama / biden 08!

    October 16, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  8. Remy

    Obama clearly mentioned his tax plan which tells person or business get less than 250,000 a year never have an increase in tax. I think Mccain was telling that plumbers making more than 250,000. This is a real joke!

    Plumbers dont make more than 100,000 in US. McCain tried to fool the majority Americans by bringing this PLUMBER JOE!

    October 16, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. bill

    You go Joe. I'm sure the McCain camp will refrute the comment and the democrats will be accused of insulting all plumbers. We are a family of small business...we do not make 250K p/year and we're looking forward to the democrats plan.

    October 16, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  10. sudha

    Joe Biden is absolutely right. There's no average Joe who makes more than $250,000 a year. If any Joe does that he's a rich Joe and can afford to share his wealth with others. I hope the people understood this very clearly. Greed starts from Joes trying to avoid taxes.

    October 16, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  11. Bravado in Boston

    And I heard on NPR this morning that after all is said and done, if this guy owned his own business, after dedcuting for the pipe, materials, etc., he STILL wouldn't be close to the $250k unless he was REAL successful. (I should have been a plumber!).

    Not only that, but under the Obama health plan, Joe wouldn't have any penalties to pay even if he had "staff" and employees.

    YOU GO JOE! (I love CNN and NPR! i wonder how many REPUBs that will vote for Palin (errr...McCain) know what "an NPR" is?! )

    October 16, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. Average Joe, not the plumber

    Senator... he's not a plumber who makes $250K per year... he's a plumber who wants to become a business owner which would then earn him $250K per year.... but under the Obama's tax plan, why would he want to do that? Why tax the people who have the ability to create jobs? McCain shares your view that everyone needs tax relief, he just wants EVERYONE to get relief. Spread the RELIEF around, Senator, but let WEALTH be earned... that's AMERICA.

    October 16, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. AOA

    McCain campaign is fighting a losing battle on this one. If you make more than $250K per year, you are not going to get a lot of sympathy from people making $40,000 a year. Obama can afford to hand Joe's vote to McCain knowing too well for every 1 "Joe Plumber" making $250K per year, there are about 98 "JoePlumber" making under $50K a year that like Obama's tax plan. It goes to show who McCain is fighting for.

    October 16, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  14. Accountant Guy

    I love hearing from you Vice President Biden. You are so right in your view of this, as I was thinking the exact same thing last night. What is going on with the Republicans and Joe Six Pack and Joe the Plumber. Are all Republicans named Joe now? Anyway, keep fighting Joe. You and Barack are almost there, keep going strong until the election, don't let up now!!

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 16, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. PA voter

    McCain's campaign has been littered with desperate P.R. stunts that backfire. I wouldn't be surprised if "Joe the Plumber" was another P.R. stunt, planted by the Republican party. I just want it investigated because, as a line Letterman has used on a previous P.R. McCain stunt: "Something doesn't smell right."

    October 16, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  16. Wharton's Cool of Bezness

    Joe Biden–98% of small businesses earn less than $250K in Delaware? I "fact check" does a number on that one!!!

    Let's say Joe has his own plumbing business with 8 other plumbers working for him. At wages of $47,350 each that would be total annual wages of $378,000.00 just for his hired help. Mr. Biden, that looks a lot more than $250,000 for Joe's small business. And guess what Mr. Biden–Joe's business hasn't paid any other overhead or employee benefits, or himself–from those profits yet.

    We are so ignorant as Americans–to expect any one of these goombas to really make sense when it comes to understanding small busines?

    You know Biden, Obama, and McCain have never had a job outside of public service!! Do either one of these idiots have any concept of what it actually takes to start and grow a small business?

    October 16, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. Atlanta

    BIDEN BIDEN BIDEN, your failure to understand business cracks me up. Labor Stats show plumbers make $47,350, round that to $48,000. If Joe employs 4 plumbers at $48,000 and 2 apprentices at $20,000 , an office manager at 40,000 and receptionist at $25,000 then he must make at least $297,000 to pay his employees. Now he has to pay himself, lets give Joe a salary of $100,000. His total salary for 9 employees is $397,000. Lets dont forget to mention business costs and insurance. This example of a small businees of 9 employees will fall into your tax hike over $250,000. Joe will have let got of some employees to pay his taxes. I hope nobody working for a small businees votes for socialism this election!!!!!!

    October 16, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  18. bob in L.A.

    I LOVE Joe Biden, but he missed it on this one- Joe the plumber is concerned about buying a business and finally making 250K saying he doesn't think working harder should mean more taxes.
    The real argument here is how much of an increase in real dollars will these people pay. According to AARP- 121.00 per YEAR! I think at 250K ayear they can afford 10.00 a month in higher taxes- just a guess.

    October 16, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  19. Mikey

    Question: If letting the Bush tax breaks for the wealthy expire is a "redistribution of wealth" from the rich, then wasn't the original tax cut for the wealthy also a "redistribution of wealth"? If that is the case, isn't letting them expire, simply correcting a redistribution that already occurred?

    Comment: Obama supposedly voted to tax people with incomes as low as $42,000 when he opposed making the the Bush tax cuts permanent. Those cuts went primarily to the very wealthy. So, McCain supported giving people with income of $42,000 a $50 tax cut, while giving himself and Cindy a tax cut of hundreds of thousands of dollars? Right? Sounds fair to me!

    October 16, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. Stan

    I am a small business man and I cry for the day I will make $250,000 a year. I know I will get there and I know that will be a fairly stable time for me..financially. And I expect to pay more taxes then than I do today.

    October 16, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  21. Momma

    Lets be real – Biden doesn't have many people in his neighborhood making less than 1M!

    All politicians need to get real with us!

    October 16, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  22. wilfrid

    Biden is right. I do not know too many plumbers that make $250,000 a year as a business owner. You have to have contracts with multiple companies and also work with the general public. If you are doing that you can afford to pay a little more taxes. Under Obamas plan he wouldn't pay more taxes. If he creates jobs in the US Joe's business would get a tax break. If he provides health care, his business would get a tax break. Even though he would go above the 250,000 mark, he still would get a tax break. Joe the plumber did not understand that and it seems like he was a plant. McCain knew too much about what he said.

    October 16, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  23. Lorenzo Jones

    Worthless druvel. If this is the best McMean can do when the economy of this country is tanking for most citizens, we're in worse shape than I thought. Joe the plumber ought to count his lucky stars that he can even consider making a quarter of a million dollars a year. We're become a country of sniveling wimps who cry out at the slightest suggestion that their "entitlements" might be challenged. What was once a proud, dignigied, caring society has succumbed to rampant greed, the beginnings of the downfall of this country as we knew it. I think I'll try the Constitution Party. Or "none of the above." Something's got to change!

    October 16, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  24. amandazz

    Realize that a plumbing business may bring in 250k but now lets pay our people pay our bills such as supplies gas ect. Joe let me tell you, you would be lucky to make 50k, well looky looky no taxes for you. Wake up people most of us that have small business dont make that much, even when things are good. Although where I come from 50k is respectful salary,

    October 16, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  25. Danielle, TX

    This Joe guy told Katie Couric that he doesn't make more than $250K, so he wouldn't get a tax increase under an Obama administration. He spouted republican talking points this morning on MSNBC. He's a republican who's voting for McCain, so I don't see what the big deal is and why he's getting so much attention.

    October 16, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
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