- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 22, 2008

He refers to it as “tax cuts,” hoping that the American public is too dumb to catch on and ridicule anyone who gets in their political way.

Mr. Obama promises to give 95 percent of American workers what he refers to as a “Making Work Pay” tax cut - a $500 refundable tax credit to every worker or $1,000 per couple. The key word here is “refundable.” This means that the one-third of taxpayers with zero income-tax liability (one-third of all tax returns to be filed in 2009 under current law) get a direct payment from the U.S. Treasury - in essence, a welfare check for working. And this will be paid by increased taxes on single filers making $200,000 or more per year and joint filers making $250,000 or more.

The issue was brought to the fore by Joe Wurzelbacher, a Holland, Ohio plumber who was playing football with his son in his front yard when Mr. Obama visited his neighborhood Oct. 11.

Mr. Wurzelbacher charged that Mr. Obama’s tax plan would be at odds with “the American dream.” Saying that he was preparing to “buy a company that makes $250,000 to $280,000 per year,” he challenged Mr. Obama. “Your new tax plan is going to cost me more, isn’t it?” Mr. Wurzelbacher asked.


In recent days, Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden sounded like they were dismissing out of hand the concerns expressed by Mr. Wurzelbacher, now known internationally as “Joe the Plumber.” When the mainstream media reported that Mr. Wurzelbacher lacked a plumbing license, Mr. Biden went on the “Tonight Show” to make light of that fact, saying he was worried about “Joe the Plumber with a license.” (Mr. Wurzelbacher says he works under the license held by his boss). Last week, Mr. Obama also sounded somewhat bemused by Joe the Plumber’s concerns: “How many plumbers do you know making $250,000 a year?”

The above comments by Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden are examples of liberal elitism on display.

Mr. Wurzelbacher, so far as we can tell, never claimed to be making that much money from the plumbing business; it seems pretty clear that he was referring to his hopes and dreams for the future. But these facts seem lost on Democrats and the mainstream media. The latter appear more interested in learning whether Mr. Wurzelbacher might have been a McCain campaign “plant” who just happened to ask his question to embarrass Mr. Obama. To Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden, however, the idea that a successful plumber could make more than $250,000 in a single year sounded like a vaguely stupid Republican Party dirty trick, and they weren’t having any of it.

Aside from ridiculing Mr. Wurzelbacher’s efforts to create a better life for his family, Mr. Obama’s campaign cites statistics purporting to show that less than 2 percent of small businesses will be affected by his tax increases. Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) claims the actual figure is closer to 10 percent, and it says that analysis of IRS statistics shows that in 2006, small businesses reported $700 billion in profits - two-thirds of which were earned in households that would be hit by the Obama tax increases.

If anything, the ATR figures probably understate the job-killing impact of Mr. Obama’s tax increases, because they don’t include his Social Security proposals - which cut taxes on workers making under $85,000 a year and significantly increase them for workers with incomes of $250,000 and above. When you factor these Social Security tax hikes into the mix, it is very likely that some of the country’s biggest job creators will find themselves paying marginal rates above 50 percent.

Furthermore, in his response to “Joe,” Mr. Obama told him that he needed to “spread the wealth around.” Since Mr. Obama has roundly rejected being called a socialist, the onus is on him to explain: What part of such government-engineered wealth distribution isn’t socialism?