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Barack Obama has his own 'Joe the Plumber' riff

Credit John McCain and his message-makers with this -- when they decided two weeks ago to make "Joe the Plumber" the personification of their negative critique of Barack Obama's economic policies, they introduced a rhetorical device with staying power.

McCain rallies, as often as not, now are billed as "Joe the Plumber" events, and attendees oblige with signs offering themselves as variations of the working-class stiff from Ohio.

The plumber himself -- Samuel J. Wurzelbacher -- has hit the trail for the Republican ticket. And Sarah Palin was joined this week by another embodiment of blue-collar America, "Tito the Builder."

But here's the surest sign that the schtick has stuck -- Obama, who takes great personal care in crafting the words he speaks, has incorporated it into his stump speeches.

Here's an alliterative sound bite from his remarks to a crowd in Raleigh, N.C., as passed along by The Times' Michael Finnegan:

Whether you are Suzy the Student, or Nancy the Nurse, or Tina the Teacher or Carl the Construction worker –- if my opponent is elected, you will be worse off four years from now than you are today.

Obama also offered a quotable retort to the McCain's suggestions that his policies veer toward socialism. “By the end of the week, he’ll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten,” Obama joked. “I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds was at the ready with a response: “No one cares what Barack Obama does with his toys, but Americans do care that he wants to raise taxes, add a trillion dollars in new spending and redistribute your hard-earned paycheck as he sees fit.”

-- Don Frederick

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Joe the Plumber is unlicensed and owes in back taxes. Perfect GOP fodder.

Don't forget Seth the Slacker ... Wanda the Welfare Queen ... Phil the Ph.D in Oppression Studies ... Curt the Corruptocrat ...


McCain Is an exploiting capitalist. He has 7 glamorous mansions and ranches. He left his wife to marry a rich, young, beautiful woman 20 years younger than him. He has 13 cars.......

Obama could just tell the simple truth: Joe is not Joe, is not a licensed plumber, is ant-government, anti-Social Security, quite dim on his mathematics, and the perfect mate to McSame and McSarah who are, as a wag said, one sandwich shy of a picnic.

What about John the Millionaire?

He can't run a campaign how could he run a country?

Obama 08

“The stark contrast between the whiz-bang Clinton years and the dreary Bush years is familiar because it is so recent. But while it is extreme, it is not atypical. Data for the whole period from 1948 to 2007, during which Republicans occupied the White House for 34 years and Democrats for 26, show average annual growth of real gross national product of 1.64 percent per capita under Republican presidents versus 2.78 percent under Democrats.

“That 1.14-point difference, if maintained for eight years, would yield 9.33 percent more income per person, which is a lot more than almost anyone can expect from a tax cut.

“The two Great Partisan Divides combine to suggest that, if history is a guide, an Obama victory in November would lead to faster economic growth with less inequality, while a McCain victory would lead to slower economic growth with more inequality. Which part of the Obama menu don’t you like? “
The quotation is from an article by Alan S. Blinder, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Like Tucker Bounds said, it does not matter to me if you played with Suzy in the sandbox or doctor with Nancy the nurse. What are you doing with my money? I have worked hard to get where I am today and I do not want a politician to tell me blatantly that he is going to "spread the wealth".

I think if they were going to "spread the wealth" let's start with some of those exorbant paychecks the elected officials get.

Listen.... all Mc Cain and Palin do, is take punches at Obama, because they don't have ANY CLUE about how to lead this country to where it needs to go. Everytime they come up with an idea, it is ONLY because Obama came up with one at first, and they feel like they need to come up with some kind of idea to combat his. Their campaign is TRULY a joke and the best thing they can do to gain anyone's respect back, is to leave the race and ADMIT at least one truth; they aren't ready to lead this country.

The race is simply between dirty politics vs ethical politics. Much has to be said for the Obama camp that in spite of Palin's many troubles (troopergate, paying for her children's travels with state money, influencing contracts to favour certain choice companies, attempting to cover up shady deals done by her) they have resisted the temptation to make all these campaign issues. If the shoe were on the other foot, we know what would have happened. I wish Obama wins if only because of this.

"...he wants to raise taxes, add a trillion dollars in new spending and redistribute your hard-earned paycheck as he sees fit.”

It's not the hard-earned checks so much as the easily-earned ones. Trust funds, stock options, whatever stuff Biff the Golfer deals with.

He has a lot of Bush mistakes to undo. The tax cuts for the filthy rich is only one. There are some "wars" that are out of hand.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please ignore the simplistic name calling and focus on the real issues this election cycle. In any college freshman Economics text book you will read about transfer payments. It is government give money to other. This money comes from individuals or businesses that have paid taxes. So, whatever name you call it does not change its capitalistic nature. This does not make you Socialist. In fact many European Allies have Socialist Governments. The stigma was if you are a puppet of Russia or the Soviet Union. Obama is a down to earth American who wants to change the way things are done to improve the economic conditions of America today and tomorrow.

Big Brother is coming! It's 2008 and we're going back to 1984

I wonder how many of McCain followers are making 250.00 per year. If they are making under 250.00 per year they should vote for Obama and get a tax break. I wonder how many will vote for McCain knowing that they will not get a tax break if Obama lose ? As to the race question I would not care what color a person skin was if he was pulling me out of a hole to save my life get real people this is 2008. Everybody is the same.

After having my taxes wasted on an unnecessary war (that should be funded by Iraqi oil money), my extra money spent on gasoline to provide oil companies with record profits (money siphoned from small businesses everywhere), and having unqualified idiots appointed to positions simply because they were "good members" who unquestioningly supported "The Party" (sounds rather Hitlerish), I'm ready for a change. When the GOP started supporting universal healthcare while spending money like it grows on trees, they lost my confidence and respect.

i'm not a big fan of this alliterative device. it just makes it that much more difficult for me, to take a statement which uses it, seriously, whichever candidate uses it.

furthermore, i'm not a big fan of joe expressing his policy positions on obama and israel, when he himself later admits that his knowledge on foreign policy isn't quite enough.

these are serious times, with many complicated issues hitting your country all at once. americans, i feel, deserve well thought out and articulated policy responses, so they can make decisions based on what will matter to them and their families down the road.

McCain and Palin and their goons have gone so negative in this campaign they have nothing to offer to the american public but to constantly criticize Obama. That is not what Americans want to hear from an old man who aspires to become president of this nation. I hope voters can see through his desperation and are sick of his negative campaign. I am for one so sick of McCain and Palin negative attack on Obama I will never want to be a republican again.

Someone should put duct tape over Tucker Bound's mouth - he is such an obnoxious spokesperson and an irritating reminder of why I am voting for Obama.

it is sad to see that at this stage in the elections, the campaigns are trying to exaggerate and distort another's words to misinform and misguide American people. I just hope that there are enough literate people in country who will rather look at the entire discussions (with Joe, Ayers or any other) prior to making up their minds to exercise theo democratic rights. Only question I wonder about is if voters do reject such ugliness in campaigns for the highest office (in the world?), will that make our politicians learn from this??!

no body of any high position has the courage to say that the majority of the taxes will go to Africnn Blacks, is this the begining of Repartion .

This election has become so stupid ... we are hearing about the stupid stunts and jokes more than we are about the real issues. Neither of these two idiots (McCain or Obama) has addressed illegal immigration even once. Our nation is being slowly invaded and our economy, our jobs, and our health care is being affected by this problem. They are putting a drain our our social programs, they are forcing our health care cost to rise, and they are keeping our wage base low when they work for less than the American workers will accept.

"He's gonna take my money!!" I'm afraid!!! He's socialist!!!

News flash: You pay taxes which get distributed to others like policemen and bridge builders so you can have protection and roads (and a military).

You think McCain is going to not charge you? Now that his party has spent all the previous tax dollars? For sure he's not going to charge John the Millionaire cause he's got accountants.

All you guys worried about your hard earned checks obviously aren't so swift on math. First, the only place you make 250k is in your dreams. Then you'd find you'd have to pay an extra what 6% on ONLY the amount over 250k. Poor babies.

You want your aircraft carriers? You want your drone aircraft? You want armor for the troops?

You think it's going to come from what, the sky? Guess what, it's 'spreading the wealth', your wealth (what little of it you have). Except it's going to Haliburton and Cheney instead of roads or schools or healthcare.

I for one am less afraid of paying another few grand on taxes than I am about this country going down the tubes because we can't compete globally, our healthcare is one of the worst in the free world and the most expensive, our bridges are falling into rivers and our economy is doing the same.

Sick of all the whiners who want it all but don't want to sacrifice anything to get it.

> Big Brother is coming! It's 2008 and we're going back to 1984

Wake up ... it's big brother who's leaving. Remember the spy on citizen and soldier's guy? The guy who removed Habeas corpus? The dufus who probably couldn't explain to you any part of the constitution or federalist papers. The Bush-Cheney-McCheney guy?

Obama is a scholar of the constitution and federalist papers. We're in great shape and I'm buying because democrats are alwasy good for the market, and since Nixon, they spend less and grow government less. Which we liberals like. Small, non-intrusive gov, fiscal prudence. Not what we say, what we do.

Socialism has never worked in communist countries, Mr Obama, you are going to waste your time!

If Obama and Biden get elected in November, they will withdraw troops and cut off funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. Biden and his friends did that to South Vietnam in 1975. The results: South Vietnam was collapsed in a short time and many South Vietnamese were killed and put in prisons by North Vietnam. Biden will do the same thing to Iraq, this time, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Israel and some Arab countries will become vulnerable.

Republicans increasingly disgust me with their lack of substance, their lies and even their unlicensed plumbers who owe back taxes.

What a pathetic joke.

A vote for McCain and Palin is a vote against the truth,against religious convictions and a vote against historic American ideals.

The Republican party of today is a sick sick machine that belches lies and ugly rumors.

Wake up middle class stooges of the Right Wing fat cats.

We have Sarah Palin...and then we have the following Republican women! the question is was McCain looking for an experienced VP candidate which was his main strength prior to his VP pick...or was he looking for an amazingly beautiful woman??? Albright was not pretty but she sure knew a thing or two about politics...but you betcha no one was looking for Hot Albright pictures online!!


Lisa Murkowski

Olympia Snowe

Susan Collins

Elizabeth Dole. (despite her recent ridiculous ad)

Kay Bailey Hutchison


Olene Walker, Utah

Linda Lingle, Hawaii

M. Jodi Rell, Connecticut

Members of the House:

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Florida

Deborah Pryce, Ohio

Barbara Cubin, Wyoming

Sue Myrick North Carolina

Jo Ann Emerson, Missouri

Kay Granger, Texas

Mary Bono, California

Heather Wilson , New Mexico

Judith Borg Biggert , Illinois

Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia

Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee

Ginny Brown-Waite, Florida

Candice Miller, Michigan

Marilyn Musgrave, Colorado

Thelma Drake, Virginia

Virginia Foxx, North Carolina

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, West Virginia

Jean Schmidt, Ohio


Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State

Margaret Spellings, Secretary of Education

Mary Peters, Secretary of Transportation

Susan Schwab, US Special Trade Representative

I dont see how people are fine with

a) spreading the wealth UPWARDS by bailing out failing banks with HARD earned tax payer monies. When no one is bailing out home owners! Does a teacher give a failing student an A to help them out? why give the banks $ when they are failing?

b) It's "socialism" to tax those who earn MORE than 250,000 a year (while most of us don't)...BUT ITS OK to tax the oil companies MORE up there in Alaska and RE-DISTRIBUTE the oil companies wealth! Why dont we tell the Alaskan's to go drill for oil and make their own wealth? instead of taxing the oil companies?

This is not re-distribution REPUBLICAN only gets that way if someone else tries to do that.

A halmark of freedom is choice in employment, the choice to find another similar job or a better one. Well, we don't have that anymore. I want it back, thank you. It is time we put the breaks on free trade because cheap imports, made buy people who work for peanuts, are flooding our borders and driving our industries out of business. Obama will bring sanity back to American trade policy. Remember, protectionism following WWII is what made American industry so powerful in the first place. Vote Obama!

Joe the Unlicensed Plumber is all the Republicans can offer? Call me elitist, but as my meager retirement funds disappear, I'm voting for the guy who gets economic advice from Warren the Richest Man in the World Buffet. Obama-Biden 2008!

I keep hearing the Replblicans saying that Obama wants to spread your wealth around.
Who is he talking to? Not me.
If he is talking to the rich and super-rich, he doesn't stand a chance. There's just not enough of them.
From what I hear is Obama talking about taking back GW's tax break-gifts to the wealthy and help the middle class survive this crisis
Does anybody even care what happens to the millions of Americans like myself that are classed ( forced to be) below middle class? Us poor people that don't make 50K a year ? As far as that goes... what about all the people in poverty? Or are politicians considered communists for going there?

I just saw Senator Obama's half hour presentation and urge everyone to watch it. We have a candidate who speaks intelligently to us, who has feelings, and obviously competence. If you listen to his presentation and Senator Biden's, and compare it with the dishonorable and pandering campaign of McCain-Palin, you can come to a decision who is best to lead our country.

I saw an interview with John McCain a couple of days ago and in it Tom Brokaw mentioned to him that Warren Buffet agrees with Senator Obama's tax plan. McCain sputtered for a few seconds then offered up as his source of disagreement the magnificent advice of Joe the Plumber. Even the obviously biased anchors on Fox News have called out Joe the Plumber for his completely idiotic observations. This man now has a publicist and is saying he wants to run for Congress. He will fit right in with Sarah Palin. Seriously, can the Republican party sink any lower? I am amazed at the incredible lack of research done by so many people, despite the fact that you can find any information you would want or need easily on the internet. If you aren't going to actually take the time to learn the facts, don't spout ignorant rhetoric!! All one has to do to see that McCain shouldn't be in charge of the nuclear codes is go to YOU TUBE and type the words JOHN MCCAIN ANGER and watch a few of his "finer moments". The man will blow the planet to smithereens!

Most people don't realize that obamas paln will tax more then it will cut. Obama will cut the federal tax down by 4.6 percent but how do you think he will make that up he has even said how. Increase over 2 to 6 percent more on health insurence tax by 2 percent, capital tax by 5 percent, socail surcurity tax by 4 percent , and even more. Bottom line is that everyone will be losing money than making slowly or quickly poor to rich classes. Search some of this up if you don't believe me.

It is the eternal struggle between two principles, right and wrong. Throughout the world,
it is the same spirt that says you toil and work and earn bread and I'll eat it. No matter what shape it comes,
whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their
labors. Or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race. It is the same tyranical principle.

This "Joe the Plumber" idiot has been trying to get a plumbers license for five years. A very ambitious lad.

McCain campaign, OVER and DONE. His poster boy, "Joe the plumber," is now embroiled in issues of support for Israel, about which he knows even less than he knows about anything else. Again, the McCain strategy: READY. FIRE! (Oh shiit, I forgot to aim). McCain is hasty, impulsive, and he lacks true leadership qualities. That's why, with the exception of a single commercial, his entire campaign for the last three weeks has been excusively name calling, fear mongering, inciting prejudices, and hitting below the belt. He's desperate because he simply refuses to believe that the presidency, to which he deemed himself entitled by virtue of having "paid his dues" and sucking up to the conservative right, has eluded him for the final time. In 8 years, McCain will be just a pathetic, sad old man. It's unfortunate, but its the path he chose based on his lack of foresight.

Protectionism made America Strong? Where are you from. America was made strong by the brut work of the workforce! The United States has NEVER had a protectionist stance, as it is implied above in two post. How is Protectionism, rebuilding the losing nation? The US paid for the repairs to the defeated Japanesse and Germans. The US directly rebuilt Italy with it own money and labor. That isn't protectionism.

Obama isn't a socialist. He is a student of Chavez, Mugabe, and Hitler. All were proclaimed to be agents of change. And Change they have and did!

McCain is older and slower, but reacts faster!? How does that happen. Well he is willing to step up to the plate, admint when he has erred and try to fix it. This opposed to "I'm considering the options." When no options had been presented. And then what do the agent of change do? Exactly the same thing as the person he says isn't able to react because of his age!

Both have lied about the other. But Obama has also lied about himself. And this doesn't bother people. Hitler's lies about himself didn't bother most Germans because, "he was going to bring about a better Germany through CHANGE!"

I guess if we are too studip to learn from history we will get to repeat it. Here Comes Change for the sake of Change! Redistributon of Wealth. Well hopefully we won't end up like Zimbabwe where Mugabe (who went to the same Univeristy as Obama?) was an agent of "change."

Obama reminds me of the Wizard of Oz."Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain"..Wright..Rezko..Ayers...etc.
What a typical LYING LAWYER!!

This « spreading the wealth » issue is getting rediculous. Americans are paying already a lot of taxes and due to reckless spendings in the last 8 years, they will surely have to pay more no matter who is elected. However, if you add up healtcare/education costs, most Americans actually have LESS money in their own pockets that in most other so-called « socialist » countries (like Canada).

Obama and Biden cannot get their definition of "rich" straight. Biden used 150k at one point and Obama shifts from 200k to 300k.

That aside, Obama usually refers to the 250k as being the mark for a husband/wife household income... Let me tell you, a combined income of 250k is not rich! That is two hard working professionals, making about 125k each. Plus you have to float everything, a mortgage, kids, college (don't expect Uncle Sam to help out this "rich" family when it comes to grants for their children), etc.

I would like to see Obama cut taxes for 95% of America. 95% of America doesn't pay taxes. To hit this number, Obama will be redistributing wealth from the hard working couple above, and giving it to Welfare Wally; someone who doesn't care to work hard and, instead, sits at home and plays x-box...

in reply to SassySanFran ...

The Republicans have been redistributing the wealth for years ... its just been going to big corporations and multi-millionaires as handouts, capital gains tax deductions, business subsidies ...

All those extra $$ have been going to the CEOs and VPs of large corporations as bonuses and salaries of $1, 2, 10, 20, 50 million. It was so nice of you to vote for Bush so he could help spread your wealth up the chain to those privileged few as we have now learned have nearly bankrupted our economy. But don't worry, it will all trickle down to us eventually ... or not.

I wouldn't mind spreading the wealth in the opposite direction for once. The poor actually spend their $$ which gets those dollars back into the economy. The rich tend to sit on their wealth and just watch it accumulate. They aren't going out and buying another Ford or Chevy or more groceries for their kids. Do you really think that if Bill Gates or Warren Buffet gets to keep an extra $1million because his taxes are reduced that it will help you?

1.) I'm shocked to see that so many people are willing to elect Obama considering he made an decision early in his "career" to climb the political ladder as high as he can before he has any sort of history or record to "pin to him".
2.) Last night on the Late Show with David Letterman, Paul Mooney indicated the blacks of America will be empowered to action if Barrack is elected. In Paul's words, when a black man gets on a bus, "All you white folks will move to the back of the bus. Now it's our turn".
I'm sort of OK with this... We'll finally have a United White Folk College Fund, White Entertainment channel on TV, ect..

Since Joe(not) the Plumber (not licensed) would actually do better under the Obama tax plan than the McCain plan, I wonder what motivates him to support McCain (other than gratitude for the 15 minutes of fame).

"no body of any high position has the courage to say that the majority of the taxes will go to Africnn Blacks, is this the begining of Repartion" (Raul)

what on earth are you talking about?

You know what gets me the most. I don't hate John McCain or Sarah Palin. I am not anit-McCain/Palin, I am just and only just pro-Obama/Biden.

People who are crying "socialist" don't understand what socialism is. For those who weren't aware, we actually have a contender for the presidency that represents the REAL socialist party, and he has pointed out that Obama is in fact a capitalist. Tax increases do not equate to socialism....and until narrow-minded conservatives grasp that, they will be unable to understand that Obama's tax plan will grow the economy much more effectively than will McCain's (which is essentially taking the Bush tax plan even further in awarding record profit-making oil companies MORE tax cuts). How is more of Bush the answer? It's not. Growing the middle class and providing relief only where it is needed is the answer.

Who cares about Joe the plumber???? His income level doesn't represent the majority of Americans, and his knowledge of the issues is comparable to Palin's--who is already known as a joke (to people without blind faith in the GOP--aka people who aren't idiots). This man is loving the undeserved attention--remember when he said after the debate that he wasn't going to divulge who his choice for president was? Two weeks later and he has been interviewed on multiple major news stations and has begun campaigning for McCain. Why would anybody take him seriously? What are his credentials? Why is the media paying him so much attention? Why does this every-day guy get to voice his juvenile opinions and the rest of us don't?? WHO CARES ABOUT JOE THE ABOVE-AVERAGE-INCOME (TOP 3% OF AMERICANS) PLUMBER? His opinions are poorly formed--and watching his rise to fame makes me understand why Obama isn't blowing this election out of the water. Joe doesn't speak for me or for many millions of other Americans.....but Obama does. GO HOME JOE THE PLUMBER!

Joe the plumber has to be the most depressing thing to happen in this campaign. It only illustrates how desperate and delusional the McCain Campaign is as well as the following who actually believes in this guy's story. I thought for sure that after his story was debunked, showing that he didn't have a plumbers license, made 40K and owed back taxes, that his presence would be obliterated. But sure enough - leave it to the McCain campaign to take this average Joe and raise him to the level of actually campaigning for the nomination of president. It clearly is a desperate attempt at drawing some kind of relationship between an old, rich, out of touch codger and the everyday man. This guy even agreed that a vote for Obama is a vote for the death sentence to Israel... What an idiot. If McCain is elected (not likely) it will be a sad, sad day in
America and will only legitimize the world view that the U.S. is a country populated by 51 % morons and Joe the Plumber will be our new poster boy.

Anyone supporting McCain/Palin now are either stupid or racist. Enough said.

The truth is out there for all to see people. Open you eyes and see it.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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