I kinda thought I knew the story before I watched this video, but I’m glad I watched it anyway. Here’s why:
- Yet again, Barack Obama shows confidence, grace, intelligence. Most importantly, however, he shows willingness. He engages this man, gives him his full attention, and takes the time to slowly, clearly, and succinctly break down his tax plan.
- Obama’s ability to empathize, understand differing points of view and address them without being patronizing or negative or defensive is paralleled by none.
But before I get to the video, I think it’s important to know this: Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher was fibbing a little.
Whether or not he has a plumber’s license (which he doesn’t) is really not the issue. At issue is that he does not yet even have a small business as he stated, and neither he nor his fictional small business make anywhere near $250,000 in income. He works for a plumbing company that is owned by someone else. His boss.
Wurzelbacher, 34, said he doesn’t have a good plan put together on how he would buy Newell Plumbing and Heating in nearby Toledo.
He said the business consists of owner Al Newell and him. Wurzelbacher said he’s worked there for six years and that the two have talked about his taking it over at some point.
“There’s a lot I’ve got to learn,” he said.
So how would Wurzelbacher go about buying his boss out? Most people who don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars squirreled away, or happen to know a handful of very generous, very wealthy people who trust Wurzelbacher, his dream and his business plan, would look into getting a loan. Okay, tough, but not impossible. That is, unless you happen to have a preliminary lien notice from your State for NOT PAYING TAXES.
Why am I taking the time to point this out?
Because I am a small business owner. I do have a start-up. My sister and I own a company together that makes—guess what?—nothing (yet)!
Now, I hope to be making at least $250K a year from now, and when that happens, I will be thankful that my taxes on my nice little middle-class secretary day job’s income were cut by Obama, so I didn’t have to freak out so much about making the rent, and so I could focus on growing my business and hiring some awesome people (and giving them awesome health insurance).
Right now, my reality is that I’m launching a company at the exact same time the economy has become depressed.
And I will be happy to pay higher taxes on whatever I make above $250K so that another woman in another U.S. city who has her shit together (e.g. a business plan, resources, time, commitment, investments) can grow her “American Dream” too.
Millions of people dream about starting a business. Very few of us actually do. The last two years of my life have been insane: awesomely difficult and enlightening and trying and fun. To me, “Joe” has a dream, but hasn’t even thought about what kind of legwork is required to make it a reality. And if he realized his current position he would realize that Obama’s Tax Plan would help him, while McCain’s would continue to feed the coffers of those who already have golden parachutes.
Obama, of course, didn’t know Joe wasn’t as successful as he made himself out to be, and wouldn’t even think to question it. What he does know is that the vast majority of small businesses owners in the U.S. make less than $250,000 per year.
So, if Joe was honest, what he would have asked is, “I want to start a small business.” Alternately, “I’m making $75,000* a year and I’m starting a small business. What are you going to do to help as president, Mr. Obama?”
Then, Obama would have stated that Joe would get a nice big tax cut, as well as health insurance incentives, so that Joe’s business would get more support to grow and create jobs (hire employees) from Obama’s plan than from McCain’s plan.
The breakdown of the plan, of course, would be the same.
Let’s be frank here. Wurzelbacher isn’t going to buy his boss’ business. And no tax plan in the world would help him do so.
The good news is, we got to see an example of how things would work for someone transitioning from the tax arena of 95% of us to the tax arena of 5% of us. Though he doesn’t represent me as a senator or president (yet), I’m already proud of Obama.
* This is a random number I pulled out of my ass. I shot high, but I’d bet dollars to doughnuts he’s not making anywhere near that. Still, for the point of the exercise.