11/16/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Reporters Confront Joe The Plumber Outside His House

It seems that Sarah Palin is going to have to cede some of the light of her celebrity to the new star of the race that the candidates can't stop talking about and who the pundits won't stop saying "won the debate," BECAUSE SHINY NEW THING. We speak, of course, of Joe Wurzelbacher, known by his alias, Joe The Plumber. He's bald and middle class and dreamy! And today, reporters crowded him outside his home and peppered him with questions as if he knew where Caylee Anthony was.

To his credit, Joe genuinely seems to wish that he wasn't such a flashpoint to the campaign, at one point saying that it bothered him that his name came up more often during the debate than Iraq. Plus, he likes freedom, and he's glad Iraqis have both freedom and a pair of pants. That said, ol' Joe is likely to have some vastly diminishing returns as a stand-in for the entire middle class, especially when you get to such crackpotty things like his being opposed to Social Security, his being sorry to find out at age 18 that he was actually born a "Yankee," and his inability to remember the circumstances that led to him registering as a member of the Natural Law Party (though the Toledo Blade says Joe is a registered Republican). At one point, Joe looked at the crowd and asked, hopefully, "This isn't national, is it?" Yeah, we sympathize.


By the way, Ezra Klein over at the American Prospect has stepped forward to become the first member of the media to actually level with Joe The Plumber, and what Obama's tax plan means to his business plans:

According to the New York Times, Mr. Wurzelbacher says that he is planning to buy a plumbing business that has profits of between $250,000 and $280,000 a year.

While this income would put Mr. Wurzelbacher above the threshold where he could expect to pay higher taxes under Senator Obama's tax plan, the increase in his tax bill would be relatively modest. Under Senator Obama's plan, the tax on income above $250,000 would increase by 3 percentage points from 33 percent to 36 percent. This means that Mr. Wurzelbacher could expect to see his tax bill rise by between $0-$900, assuming that this plumbing business would be his entire taxable income. If he has additional taxable income, then he would see a larger increase in his taxes.

It would have been useful for reporters to explain the extent to which Joe the Plumber would see his taxes increase under Senator Obama's tax proposal. It is unlikely that this tax increase will seriously impair his plans for his business as Senator McCain implied.