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Joe the Plumber, Quartermillionaire? Median Plumber Salary: $38K

Barack Obama won’t raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year. John McCain claims in tonight’s debate that a plumber, “Joe the Plumber” would get a tax hike under Barack Obama’s presidency. John McCain is claiming that “Joe the Plumber” is a quartermillionaire.

If “Joe the Plumber” is making more than $250,000 a year, then he’s not just “Joe the Plumber.” He’s something else.

I mean, come on, get real: The median annual salary of a plumber in America is $37,514.

Get real, John McCain. Get real.

Plumbers for Barack Obama Bumper Sticker

14 comments to Joe the Plumber, Quartermillionaire? Median Plumber Salary: $38K

  • Ellen Valle

    Obams would not his own child’s baby. He said I don’t want my child punished with a baby. Jesse Jackson claimed”ABORTION IS BLACK GENOCIDE.’ In Philadelphis half the black children are aborted. So many of my black friends have lost children to abortion. We cannot support Black Genocide.

  • Elle

    Wow, talk about a one issue voter.
    Thanks for sharing that with us Ellen.

    Obviously, John McCain hangs with a better class of plumber than you do. But look at it this way, in a little while, we will all be making hundreds of thousand of dollars, we just won’t be able to afford anything because of hyper-inflation which will devalue our currency to the equivilant of say, Zimbabwe.

    As far as “black genocide” and all that, if these crackers were as willing to help support and take care of all these poor black (and white) babies so they would have a shot at a decent life, like adopting them, providing daycare or giving decent jobs to them when they grow up, then maybe I would take their rhetoric a bit more seriously.

    This isn’t about anything but the desire to butt their noses into someone else’s life and tell them how to live it.

  • Laura

    First, I’m not really clear on Ellen’s point about how abortion as “black genocide” relates to Joe the Plummer. Besides, are people going from house to house and dragging black women into abortion clinics against their will? Sounds to me more like they need more info and education about birth control to begin with rather than eliminiating abortion altogether.

    Anyway, back to Joe the Plummer. It seemed to me that was McC’s effort at addressing the “middle class” voters. However, if someone is making $250,000 a year, that’s not middle class — closer to upper. He’s bringing in a salary that’s more than double that of my household. Another attempt of McC’s to look like he’s for the “common man.”

  • SpudBreau

    Does this median plumber salary refer to a plumber who is working for a firm, such as a plumber’s apprentice? Or the owner of a plumbing firm? “Salary” usually means you are working for someone else, although the owners of small businesses will commonly refer to paying themselves a salary.

    If you mean only people that are plumbers working for a firm, how is that very relevant to what the guy was talking about: i.e. buying the plumbing firm from the owner when the owner was ready to retire?

    These figures about “…90% of small businesses are less than 250K a year..” First, it’s not relevant if we are talking about gross income versus what the owner is drawing out in salary. I still don’t know the actual Obama clarification on this. I’m sure he would mean the owner’s salary over the firm’s gross receipts, but then his 90% comment virtually has no meaning.

    If Mr. Joe wants to be pretty successful in his small plumbing business, and I guess everyone does, then his point that he would pay more in taxes when he got over 250K a year is a valid one, which is pretty much where Obama agreed with him.

    If 250K is the number where the “sharing of the pie” starts taking larger percentage chunks, then I’m OK with that from that perspective. When I was in grade school, 20K a year sounded like a lot of money to me.

    To Laura, yes 250K is the high end of middle class, but that’s a long way from the very rich where a million or more (sometimes many, many more)in income is the norm. I’d like to think that at 250K income, you SHOULD be able to really enjoy the “good life” and give your kids the very best colleges, etc. But of course at the 250K level, you bear the entire brunt of the payments, as the aid money does not apply to you. Boo hoo, I know.

    I’ve never endorsed McCain, but I really don’t have a good feel that Obama “feels my pain” much either. He doesn’t seem to feel he should “share the wealth” much either. In 2001, they made over 270K in AGI and contributed a little over $1400 in charitable contributions. That’s only 0.4%! It’s not my place to criticize anyone’s charitable giving rates, but man, that’s pretty low. By 2004, it was only up to $2500, or a little over 1%. Not until they got what I’d call a ton of money, $1.6 Million dollars in 2005, did they get up to a modest 4.7% in charity giving. Last year, they made an almost crazy amount of money due to book sales, over $4.2 Million dollars, and they still didn’t give much more than 5% to charity.

    I strongly agree with his premise that at higher income levels you can easily afford to give more in taxes as a percentage of your income. Certainly food and housing are taking a diminishing percentage unless you choose to really blow a lot on your house and eat really well! I’m still dubious about his committment and beliefs. I’m sure his church recommends a tithing (10%, and that’s supposed to be off the gross, not AGI)

    I have a hard time with sincerity about truly believing in the principles of sharing wealth, when you don’t do it voluntarily, yet he will suggest that it will be done forcefully with taxes. Why wasn’t it good for him to do then?

    Whether raising taxes on people over 250K will really contribute to overall job growth, and therefore “raise all boats” remains to be seen. It hasn’t really been directly proven so far.

  • Elle

    I would think that you would however agree with the observation that, the Bush tax cuts have done nothing as far as revitalizing the economy, and “trickling down” to create jobs and raise the standard of living for the middle and lower middle class. it has been what, something like 6 years or so under those tax cuts, which only affected the wealthy, and the rest of us are still waiting for that “trickle down”.

    And the centerpoint of McCain’s plan? keep those tax cuts and go on waiting for that trickle down.

    Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice,,,

  • SpudBreau

    Although you really didn’t address anything I was talking about, I’ll comment. I wish things were as simple as people want them to be.

    There’s no short answer to that question. If you look at unemployment for instance, (and that is not a number that gives a whole picture either) it rose dramatically in 2001 and after 9/11/01. I don’t think the Bush tax cuts, which Congress did not authorized until May 2001, can be shown to have directly caused that decline in employment. After unemployment peaked in 2003, it began a long decline until at the beginning of 2007, it had essentially reached the level it had been back in 1998, when things were still considered “good”.

    Can you draw a conclusion then that the tax cuts encouraged the drop in unemployment? Again, not really, since it’s a much more complex issue than that. Federal money policy and many other issues play a role. And of course, unemployment figures don’t measure underemployment, etc, but it is one generally-recognized important statistic. I think it is rather obvious that when we are talking unemployment figures, they are mainly swinging up and down due to the employment of the middle class and below, not the rich, who are a very small percentage of the employment figures.

    Nothing comes for free of course, and a lot of the rise in unemployment from 2007 until now is fed by the drop in the housing market. The housing “boom” itself was partially created by Federal monetary policy, and not necessarily due to Bush tax cuts. We all know in retrospect, that like the dot.com “boom” in the 1990s, the housing boom was fueled by growth methods that were not sustainable long-term.

    In many places today, new housing starts are pretty near nil, since there is a glut of available housing, as compared to buyers or available money. That has killed many jobs. My best friend is an independent contractor who works primarily on new housing construction. I guess he’s an example of “small business”. Things are tough lately, obviously. The builder he normally contracts for isn’t doing too much these days. And he’s one of the many whose jobs are impacted today.

    The question remains: will raising the tax rate on his primary builder (who, while not his “employer” still essentially pays his bills) cause his builder to start more new home construction, and thus get my friend and his ilk back to work? In the case of the housing and building industry, which obviously has employed many people in this country, and continues to be a strong player, I don’t see a good cause and effect plan there.

    My friend’s major contractor will certainly end up paying more in taxes under the Obama plan. Will that make him build more houses and put my friend back to work? That just doesn’t seem to make sense.

    I think the issue is far more complex than just saying “Bush tax cuts killed the economy, so the opposite must be good”. This is where I’m not sure that change for change’s sake is necessarily good change. That’s not any kind of a McCain endorsement, btw.

    The knee-jerk reaction is to do the opposite of something, but that doesn’t mean it will solve the problem. When a doctor is treating your infection with an antibiotic, and it’s not reacting strongly enough, do they start giving you Botox or feed you food laced with e-coli? No, they probably try another, perhaps stronger antibiotic until they get the response.

    I’m not stating my proposal for solving the world’s crisis here; again, the world is a little too complicated to reduce to a few paragraphs that way. I’m just still not sure that you can show a direct correlation between raising upper income tax rates and increased jobs among the less wealthy.

  • JoeMomma

    FUKKK OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Oh, that was edifying, JM. Turns out that “Joe the Plumber” makes about 40K a year (pretty close to the average posted here) and would benefit immensely from the Obama tax cuts, by the way, much more than he’d benefit from the McCain tax cut.

  • Kat

    SpudBreau, great comment. But It looks pretty clear for me that 250K is about individual taxes and it would be a miracle if Joe the Plamber makes more.

    And it is not that Bush’s tax cut killed the economy. It is outsourcing, risky financial schemes, bad managenent and luck of CEO’s responsibility in the most of US corporations, lower labor standards etc that kills the economy.

    Tax cut itself usually is beneficial. But in this global economy tax cut for rich outsourcing jobs executives and corporations is just as a morphin injection to a drugs adicted. It would be used by corporations to outsource more jobs and better get away with bad management dicisions.

    As to the tax cut … well … there is no huge difference in the both programs. Obama is a little better for everybody how has under 250K and McCain better for the rest 5% of population. And I am not the person who would say “Yep, f**k those rich boys” But in the circumstance then the economy is in crises it could help to save the middle class in America. And the middle class is the basic of Democracy.

    Obama is also talking (and I do hope about it) that he will cut corporate taxes for the corpotations that keep jobs in US. So I think that your friends primary builder will not be hurt. And well… people need homes and if they (90% of population that would have more money) will be able to pay it will benefit all the construction business much more even inspite of the taxes.

    And yes… nobody know what is fair tax. Could be flat tax. But not right now, I think. Moreover McCain doesn’t speak about flat taxes as well. All the BS is just about few percent bigger for one and smaller for another.

  • SpudBreau

    I agree that corporate greed has achieved a disgusting level. When you look at the changes over the years in CEO to average worker pay, it is astounding.

    And I want companies to make good money too. Since my pension went bye-bye many years ago, my 401K for retirement is based upon companies doing well, as well is my current job, obviously.

    So will Obama really cut the corporate tax rate? It is possible, but I kind of doubt it during the current climate. It’s also very, very hard to prove (or disprove) whether they “kept” the jobs in the U.S. I’ve seen many funny games played. First, they will spin off a division to a local supplier, so it’s still considered “U.S. based”. Then that company plays international footsie, and the whole thing is covered up.

    We all have to face this: We once had a pretty darn healthy economy where the “old” economy was based on making STUFF.
    This was stuff like steel, cars, TVs textiles, clothing, furniture; the list just goes on and on, as you know.

    Today, people in Asia (and increasingly African countries as well) have cut into the “making stuff” industries so hard, that there is really no way American efficiencies can ever compensate.

    What are some of the biggest growing job fields today? Health care. And to me, that is an “industry” that is the modern equivalent of what we called in the 1980s: “flipping burgers for each other”. Nothing is really produced by me getting physicals and lots of nice tests 4 or 5 times a year. My brother works as a chemist, and has worked for several drug-producing companies that have seen the actual fancy-stuff drug production go offshore as well.

    Tell me what will eventually keep our nice standard of living from slowing spiralling downhill, and I won’t be so depressed. It’s not you giving me a physical, and then me keypunching the data into a database. There has to be more value created. I think the golden age of America is going fast, and I don’t think “redistributing” the wealth will do anything in the long term to stop it, other than get some people elected and re-elected.

  • dan

    that is completely possible. the median salary is for plumbers that work for someone. if you open up your own small plumbers business then 250,000 would not be that hard

  • Jim

    It is in this case fictitious. “Joe the plumber,” whose real name is Samuel, said he was “getting ready to buy a company that makes two hundred fifty, two hundred seventy/eighty thousand dollars a year.” But the company Samuel said he was getting ready to buy has receipts of just $510,000 a year. That receipts figure doesn’t include any business expenses or salaries for plumbers or other employees working under it. $250,000 net income for the business my patootie.

  • MeinerMeltdown

    First, isn’t the fact that he chooses to be called by his middle name pretty common? I know several of my coworkers that prefer using their middle name. Some because they like it better, some because their fathers had the same first name, and the family used it to distinguish them. At any rate, calling it out, as in “his real name is Samuel”, is pretty petty and childish, really.

    You can’t legitimately complain when someone uses a person’s full and complete name, such as the pundits who choose to say “barack hussein obama” and then make ANY kind of a deal of a guy who chooses to use a valid part of his “real name”, which this guy has done. That’s just plain silly. He’s not trying to hide something.

    Secondly, a Time article mentions, “…That said, a plumber’s earnings vary widely depending on the region in which they work and whether a plumber owns a business that employs others. Journeymen in cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston are in higher demand and command higher prices – up to about $250,000 a year….” That seems to be in the ballpark.

    The numbers that you’re basing your patootie on(where is that exactly?) “…those numbers lump different occupations together and don’t give a complete picture of the current market….”, according to the Time piece.

    A spokesperson for Cincinnati-based Roto-Router (ouch!) said this about individual working plumbers at his own firm, “…notes that some master plumbers (about five to seven years experience) at the Cincinnati-based company make in excess of $100,000 a year…”

    So, your patootie aside, if an individual plumber working in the same state as “Joe/Samuel” can make 100-large a year, why does it seem that hard to fathom that an individual good small plumbing firm can net the owner over 250K?

    You should be aware that the 510K you quote is based on Dunn&Bradstreet’s analysis of their business. From my dealings with D&B, their ability to accurate judge the worth or stability of small, privately-held businesses is very, very spotty. It’s just an estimate, and even they will tell you that in their disclaimers when you request (pay for) the data from them. Even using that figure and projecting net incomes from it is slippery. Plumbing work has historical a very high profit margin.

    While Joe/Samuel’s dreams (perhaps he has an audacity of hope) for his future business may be ambitious, the main point that he could make over 250K a year owning a small plumbing business are entirely valid in the real world, your patootie nothwithstanding.

  • Jim

    It sounds reasonable at a kind of impressionist level, but in order to get to the point you want to argue, Meiner, you’re making lots of little steps away from the actual situation, and they cumulate.

    You don’t live in Ohio, do you? This isn’t New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston. It’s not even Cincinnati. This is Toledo we’re talking about. McCain cited Joe as a plumber, not a plumbing business owner. Joe actually earns about $40k a year, and even if he WERE an actual licensed and registered plumber, which he’s NOT, and even if he DID rise to Plumber Level III certification after, you know, getting his license in the first place, in the midwest the median salary is $49,900.

    “Joe” isn’t buying anything anytime soon, and Joe’s firm that he works for isn’t the “good small plumbing firm” you’re talking about — it’s just Joe and Joe’s boss.

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