And, unlike Wurzelbacher, he’s a licensed plumber.
Joe Moenck, a plumber in Zumbrota, Minn., is a member of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters (UA) Local 6—which, like all building and construction trades unions, has high professional standards for its members—such as making sure they hold a license to practice their craft.
Moenck was dismayed to see McCain repeatedly trot out “Joe the Plumber” during this week’s presidential debate with Sen. Barack Obama. Says Moenck:
“I felt that when John McCain was talking about Joe the Plumber, I didn’t feel that that was sincere. He didn’t mention the middle class in the last two debates at all. It upset me that he brought this up strictly because he had to, because his ratings are low among the middle class. I don’t think he believes what he said, but he knows his support is low there and said that strictly for the ratings, as a campaign strategy.”
When “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher met Obama in Toledo on Sunday, Wurzelbacher expressed concern about being taxed on earnings of $280,000 per year should he ever start a small plumbing business.
But, as Moenck can tell you, hard workers like him in the building trades aren’t paid anywhere near $250,000 a year. For Moenck—and even for Wurzelbacher, who right now makes far less than his dream salary—Obama’s tax plan would mean a decrease in taxes by more than $1,200 a year—more than under McCain’s tax plan. And should Wurzelbacher ever pull in $250,000, he’d only pay a few hundred dollar more in taxes under Obama’s plan. Not a deal-breaker for a guy thinking of starting a small business.
Wurzelbacher also has a bit of an agenda. He’s a member of the Associated Builders & Contractors, a nonunion trade group that has endorsed McCain.
So, in addition to Moenck, we’d like to introduce McCain to a few other real Joe the plumbers.
There’s Joe Gutzwiller, a licensed plumber in Indianapolis and member of UA Local 440. Gutzwiller shares a lot in common with Moenck, including seeing through McCain’s pretensions of support for America’s middle class.
“I heard the one about health care, where McCain wants to tax our benefits, and I just think he’s looking out for bigger businesses and corporations leaving middle class people out of the whole picture.
“I think Obama is actually trying to help out middle class people who are feeling the effect of our economy. From what I’ve seen in the debates, he’s trying to prevent future problems and give the middle class a tax break to help stimulate the economy.”
And then there’s Joe Tatum in Virginia, who’s been a licensed plumber for 35 years after apprenticing with UA Local 10.
“McCain thinks we make over $200,000. I don’t make anywhere close to that. If I did, I could retire now instead of waiting ’til I’m 62.”
Over in Colorado, Joe Martinez, a plumber and member of UA Local 3, has this to say:
“John McCain doesn’t understand working families and I don’t understand how any plumber can vote for John McCain. He’s just not in touch with the working man at all.”
And there’s Joe Vicena, a member of UA Local 75 in Milwaukee, who sees McCain as continuing the same disastrous economic policies as George W. Bush.
“Our jobs are being sent overseas, people are losing their pensions and their 401(k)s, and the stock market is tanking. We need change in a positive manner. McCain is not the person to do it. He is absolutely not the person. Me and my family can’t take four more minutes, much less four more years, of the missteps and mis-policies we’ve had the past eight.”
Moenck, Gutzwiller, Tatum, Martinez and Vicena agree with their union that Obama is the best choice for America’s plumbers—and all middle-class workers—because, as under Bush, McCain’s economic policy would benefit the wealthiest and flush the rest of us down the tank. As Moenck puts it:
“If the middle class doesn’t have money to call Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber’s not gonna be in business very long.”
About the Author
This is a cross-post from the Firedoglake blog in partnership with the author Tula Connell, AFL-CIO managing editor. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, commonly known as the AFL-CIO, is a national trade union center, the largest federation of unions in the United States made up of 56 national and international unions including Canadian together representing more than 10 million workers. This organization gave Barack Obama one of his biggest Union endorsements.