Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Two-Hundred Fifty Million Dollar Man

I don't know, something doesn't quite add up here.

Call me suspicious but any time Michelle Malkin and the rest of the right wing wind tunnel says we all need to lay off and back away from a story, I think it's time to start digging deeper. It's sort of like if Bush endorses a policy. Chances are the best course of action is completely the opposite.

And, really, I hope that the facts are continued to be revealed about this Joe the Plumber. Ever since he and his magic plunger were so frequently mentioned during the last debate (I've checked the transcript, alas, there was no mention of his invisible unicorn pal, Simon.), a lot of them have. And the picture they paint is a troubling one.

Here's what I've heard, keeping in mind that some of it might well be bloviated rumors:

  • Joe the Plumber, isn't a Plumber. He's a contractor. And an unlicensed one at that.
  • The company he wanted to buy, the one which would push his income over $250,000 a year, makes only $100,000, if that.
  • He's not planning to purchase the company and his boss isn't planning to sell.
  • He's saved up to purchase this company but he's making only $40,000 a year.
  • Oh, and rather than having a problem with paying taxes, he has a problem with paying them at all, with a tax lien against him for failing to pay on his property.
  • Before confronting Obama during that campaign stop, he was a frequent caller/participant on the local conservative talkshow circuit.

It's that last bullet point I find most troubling.

Forget that we're talking about a marginal tax rate increase on a business that might not even warrant it, a raised rate that would account for something like an extra 1~2% of their income, at most.

Forget that we might be talking about a wholly fictitious company, an example made up in the mind of one man in an attempt to prove a point about Obama's tax plan. One whose earnings makes sense only until you start looking at them.

Forget that the right has seemingly rallied around this man, supposedly about to earn $250,000 a year and made him a symbol of struggling middle class Americans everywhere. To them, yes, someone making only a quarter of a million probably is feeling the pinch.

What I wonder about is if this whole episode wasn't a set-up. Maybe a scheme hatched inside the head of one man. Maybe something more. As inept as the McCain campaign has been, I could see this being a weak attempt at some Rovian ploy.

Think about it, the Republicans, in the face of the economic downturn and their flailing presidential hopes have been flogging one theme over and over, as their only refuge: Obama's going to raise taxes. Never mind that, for most Americans strip mined by the wealthy, he won't. Never mind that, if our economy really is about to fail that maybe we do need to get some additional funds and push out the kind of social services that can allow us to bounce back and, yes, that'll mean more sacrifices for everyone – but if we're all loyal Americans then we shouldn't mind paying a bit more taxes to help keep our country great. It's the economic boogey man of the right, to go along with their campaign of cultural scarecrows. It's a talking point, it's been repeated over and over by the pundits, and it's what the Republicans hope can be what finally drives back Obama's cresting wave. If they can convince the public that he's going to raise the taxes on the middle class then they just might pull out a win. You think it hasn't been talked about on those toxic talk radio shows? All it takes is someone listening and willing to prove the point.

No, I habitually disagree with Malkin, if only because that so often makes me right. But, here, I think there's some fishy smell and a source to discover. It might be pretty soon that instead of calling him Joe the Plumber, we wind up calling him Joe the Plant.

No comments: