Final Debate Gives "Joe the Plumber" 15 Minutes of Fame

After watching last night’s debate, I was reminded of the prophetic words of Andy Warhol.

“In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.”

Well, congratulations Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, you’re famous, whether you should be or not.

Joe is also, apparently, the most important man in America, judging from the attention paid to him in the final (thank heaven) presidential debate. See, Joe wants to possibly buy a new business, one that could make $250,000 – $280,000 a year. He’s afraid that Sen. Obama’s tax plan would tax him to death, and that would be unfair, hypothetically speaking. Obama had already addressed his concerns [], but to Joe, it was all just so much “tap dancing,” like that other black fellow Sammy Davis, Jr. used to do, only better. []

Once again, John McCain failed to mention the middle class in the debate, but he had Joe the Plumber, who he portrayed as the quintessential middle class American, and that’s just as good, isn’t it?

Except that Joe hasn’t actually bought that new business, and would currently see a tax cut under Obama’s plan, which might come in handy to help do things like, say, buy a new business. Nor is it clear, even if Joe bought that business that brought in $250K a year – considerably more than most Americans make, and no sure thing given the steady decline of construction projects []), would that translate to $250K in taxable revenue. And even if it did, Joe would see whopping tax increase of……3%. Hardly “taxed to death,” as McCain claims. Then there’s the money Joe would save on healthcare for his hypothetical employees his new business would employ, and all the other social-economic programs Joe currently or hypothetically will someday rely on that would get cut under a McCain administration to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and corporations.

But that’s just “tap dancing” to Joe, who seemed to neither understand nor pay attention to Obama’s response. To Joe, it’s all about the unfairness of raising taxes on the nation’s wealthiest people, which hypothetically might, someday, include Joe. Joe’s afraid it would lead to the slippery slope of encroaching socialism. Why, under an Obama administration, the government might start nationalizing businesses! Like banks! Or they might take over one of the world’s biggest insurance companies! Joe’s fears are unfounded, as that’s already been taken care of by the Republican president whose economic policies John McCain is committed to continuing. The same conservative economic policies that the current financial crisis has exposed as a massive lump of unadulterated FAIL.

But “spreading the wealth?” That sounds like socialism, and Joe no likey. Unless of course he’s on the receiving end of the tax cuts. Then it appeals to him []. But if he’s got to give up 3% more taxes to help other people, then HELL NO. They’re probably lazy and don’t work hard anyway, unlike the richest 5% of Americans who Joe imagines work even harder than him. Joe doesn’t think it’s up to them to help America. They got theirs, now leave those poor rich people alone! Joe also imagines “tax cuts for the middle class” is the same thing as a “handout.” Joe doesn’t want that. Or rather, he does, but he doesn’t want anyone who makes less than him to get it. Joe hates Social Security, thinks it’s a joke. [] Joe wants deregulation in the healthcare market, because it worked so well on the financial markets. Not only does Joe not want to pay any new taxes, he doesn’t want to pay the ones he already owes.. [] Joe wants all the benefits of living in America without contributing to keeping the place running. Joe wants the “American Dream” – a house, some guns, a boat, college for his kid. But only for him. And the people who’ve gotten rich from the economic policies that have left the rest of the middle class behind. The middle class that Joe wants to get out of, ‘cause, really, screw them. Slackers.

Have I mentioned Joe is a registered Republican?

And his 15 minutes is, thankfully, almost up.

– Michael Turner