John Q. Public = Joe The Plumber


October 16, 2008 by 8junebugs

Dear Joe:
(May I call you Joe?)

Were you watching the debate last night? I kept wondering if McCain’s people told you that you would be the bayonet with which the esteemed gentleman from Arizona would poke Senator Obama. I see from your early appearance on Good Morning America that you probably knew this was coming, but I felt like maybe McCain was outing you somehow. I wondered if your boss knew you were planning to buy him out or become the competition.

Joe, were you listening when the senators outlined how their economic policies would really affect you? I know it was distracting to have all the cross-talk and confusion about whose supporters had the most hurtful t-shirt designs, so I can only hope that you heard how different these plans really are.

Senator McCain’s economic talking points:

  • Capital gains tax cuts
  • Tax breaks for seniors
  • Stock loss write-offs
  • Buying up mortages and somehow help people renegotiate their loans

I don’t know about you, Joe, but none of these solutions touches me. Not one. You only pay capital gains tax when you sell real estate or other assets (stocks, for instance) and make a profit — I don’t have anything worth all that much, and everything that would qualify is currently selling at bargain-basement prices.

I’m not a senior. My parents are getting there, but their tax cuts don’t do me diddly-squat. You want my support on this point, stop taxing social security or 401k income or withdrawals. (Ditto for 403b.) That will help my mom not need my help, which will help me not need anyone else’s.

Stock loss? Thanks to the increasing cost of living and the decreasing net worth of my paycheck, I can afford chicken stock. And maybe a beanstalk (next year…). Until I feel rich enough to dabble in stocks with money I can afford to lose, this ain’t gonna do a damn thing.

(Do you have stocks, Joe? You know, plumbers are pretty expensive. Maybe I’m underestimating your income level.)

Oh, that last point hurts me, Joe. It cuts me deeply. I’m one of a generation of people struggling to see how they’ll ever be able to afford a home of their own. We try to save and we progress in our careers, but we’ve had to pay increasingly high income taxes and we’ll be paying off student loans until it’s time to put our own kids through college, if we’re even able to do that. So, I must say, as much as I hope my friends and neighbors can benefit from this, it doesn’t do me a bit of good.

Now, on to Obama’s plans:

  • End tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas
  • Provide a tax credit for every company that’s creating a job right here in America
  • Middle-class tax cut for people making less than $200,000
  • IRA account access without penalty in a crisis
  • Fix our energy policy that’s giving our wealth away
  • Fix our health care system
  • Invest in our education system for every young person to be able to learn

Regarding the tax breaks for employers, huzzah! I have a very portable job that could be exported pretty easily if we stop being so particular about using American over British English. I’ve been pretty lucky so far, but a lot of U.S. editing has already been outsourced.

That third one? That’s me. Right there. I make less than $200,000 a year. I wouldn’t mind keeping more of that. I’m a Democrat and I do not mind paying taxes — there are things the government should fund, and the money has to come from somewhere — but paying less in taxes will allow me to more fully contribute to the “Main Street” economy.

(Hey, Joe, how much do you take home? I know — it’s a rude question. But I wonder, looking at these plans, if you’ve done the math on your real income or What You’ll Make When You Make More Than You Make Today. This is the danger of the American Dream, Joe. Look your paycheck in the face, buddy.)

I don’t have an IRA, but I’m planning to start one…before the year is out, I hope. Again, eliminating taxes on the 401k and 403b accounts, etc., would help more, but this is still good thinking.

Energy = gas, for the most part, and I spend too much on it. How about you, Joe? I’m betting you’ve got a pick-up or an SUV…

Even with good insurance…seriously, really good insurance…I spend enough on healthcare that I keep receipts all year long to check whether I’ve surpassed the expected 7%-of-my-income cap when it’s time to file taxes.

If, by “invest in our education,” Obama means that college will be cheaper and/or free — which is exactly what he means — i’m all for it. I’m for it as a perpetual student and as a potential parent who would very much like my kid(s) to have an easier time of it than I had. (Why, as a single woman without children, do I worry about paying for my kids’ college? Because I’m still paying for mine.)

Joe, do you have kids? Do they want to be plumbers? Or do they want to be president of the United States (and a ballerina rockstar marine biologist!)? You have the chance this year to set them up twice — vote for the guy who will help you afford to send them to college, and the guy who knows how hard it is to get into and pay for that degree. Give them the opportunity, and give them the role model.

Give them hope.

All my best. Really. I hope they’re paying you well for this.


4 thoughts on “John Q. Public = Joe The Plumber

  1. Alicia says:

    That’s better. I knew it was coming.

  2. 8junebugs says:

    So glad you’re pleased. 😛

  3. jon says:

    I have, to be fair, read that the plans (as they’re currently known, sans inevitable pork, and counting increased revenue sources) will cost ~250b a year extra (non-partisan review). So I wonder about that 200K income figure. I think that may have to be revised downwards to get the rest of it to stick. Unfortunately, I also bet that lowering that number will be basically impossible, so something else will have to go instead, or we’ll need to scale back. Given that the dems will have 58-61 seats in the Senate, I’m fairly certain Obama can get all this stuff passed, but there are some problems with the math (not counting just how bad the deficit is going to be this year given overall loss of income, which is going to be pretty spectacular).

  4. 8junebugs says:

    I know. But you can’t get either of them to talk about bits of their plans that will have to be revised. Even with the Dems holding the majority, I am not convinced that he’ll get everything through.

    And I’d be willing to bet that his healthcare plan takes one for the team. 😦

    You and math… 😛

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