- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 22, 2008

RICHMOND | Sen. Barack Obama beat back criticism that his tax plan is socialism and bad for small business owners such “Joe the Plumber” by accusing Sen. John McCain of lavishing tax cuts on the rich.

“He’s not fighting for Joe the Plumber. He’s fighting for Joe the Hedge Fund Manager,” the Democratic presidential nominee said. “He likes to talk about Joe the Plumber but he’s in cahoots with Joe the CEO. Don’t be fooled. Don’t let them hoodwink you.”

Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, has hammered Mr. Obama for pursuing a socialist agenda since the Democrat told Joseph Wurzelbacher, an Ohio plumber worried about higher taxes if he buys a plumbing business, that “when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

“He wants government to take Joe’s money and give it to somebody else. His hard-earned dollars,” Mr. McCain said at a recent rally in Pennsylvania. “America didn’t become the greatest nation on earth by spreading the wealth. We became the greatest nation on earth by creating new wealth.”

Mr. Obama said he would roll back President Bush’s tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans, those making more than $250,000 a year, but he would give tax cuts to the middle-class, which he said includes the lion’s share of small business owners.

He asked for a show of hands at the rally in the Richmond Coliseum from those making less than $250,000. Nearly all of the 13,000 people raised their hands, many laughing.

“I’m just checking,” Mr. Obama joked.

“For the last eight years, we have tried it John McCain’s way. We have tried it George Bush’s way,” he said. “We’ve given more and more to those with the most and hoped that prosperity would trickle down to everyone else. And guess what? It didn’t. So it’s time try something new. It’s time to grow this economy from the bottom-up. It’s time to invest in the middle-class again.”

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