Debate about Joe the Plumber could not get any dumber


Of Plumbers and Presidents

The inane stupidity of the “Joe the Plumber” discussion tells us a lot about how out of touch the campaigns and media are with America, and frankly how little most Americans seem to understand about small business taxes. After listening to CNN’s Lou Dobbs’ take on the situation and hearing McCain say he’s out to help the Joe the Plumbers (implying his tax plan would do more to help plumbers than Obama’s, which is false and almost certainly a campaign lie) I had to challenge the economically senile statements of these two rich guys and chime in with the truth.

My take is that neither left nor right wing seems to be making sense about all this. Joe the Plumber is relevant to the current debate because he is representative of some middle income Americans who make ballpark of 40-80k per year, would actually benefit in the short term from Obama’s tax plans, but don’t share Obama’s sensibilities about how to run country or the idea that even greater levels of deficit spending than McCain is proposing are a good idea.  It’s OK for Joe to be for McCain, but if he thinks that is to his tax advantage he is mistaken.

Here’s a better authority than me – Nobel economist Paul Krugman in NYT writing about the plumbing income issues.

So, with average plumbers making about 47k clearly he’s *currently* better off under Obama’s plan if taxes are what we are talking about. But what if he buys the business?

Details are not all that clear but it appears the business Joe wants to buy has 2 plumbers. Let’s assume they also employ one office person and one helper. Even assuming they can bill those plumbers at $100 per hour, the helpers at $50 and everybody works a full 2000 hours per year (this is very unrealistically high work hours for this type of biz – half this would be closer to normal). But even optimistically the biz probably pulls in about 500k per year.

Assuming that employee benefits and payroll taxes are about *half* the billed rate to the two plumbers employees we have 250k labor expense for workers. Add 30k for the office staff and another 50k for advertising, building, insurance, and more (it’s probably twice that, but I’m being very generous to McCain supporters here).

Revenues 500k – Expenses 330k = Taxable income 170k

So even if he buys the joint Joe the Plumber won’t be making 250k. Sure a few plumbing businesses with several workers might be making that, but the small business guys McCain claims he represents would likely be better off under Obama’s tax plans. Most are are mom and pops making far less than 250k.

Lou Dobbs and some McCain folks have *idiotically* asserted that a lot of *plumbers* make 250k. If you believe this there is only one word for you: Stupid. Plumbers rarely bill at over 100 per hour and there are 2000 hours in a year – do the math because even if they have zero expenses they don’t make 250k and those who think they do are really math and business savvy challenged (e.g. Lou Dobbs who has NO business talking business).

Average plumbing salaries in Ohio are under 50k per year – similar to what teachers, police, fireman make.

To me it is sort of pitiful how folks who will pay *more* under McCain are defending his tax plan because they just don’t understand business taxes. It’s fine for a plumber to support McCain but it’s misinformed to think Obama’s the big bad tax man for the middle class.

Joe is not a small business – in fact he’s not even a plumber. He was (probably wrongly) thinking that if he bought the plumbing place he worked for he’d have trouble paying Obama’s taxes, and Obama foolishly just assumed that was true.

Joe may want to vote for McCain if if NON TAX issues like abortion and gun rights are paramount to him and there are many other reasons Joe the Plumber might want to vote for McCain.

Taxes, however, are NOT one of those reasons.

Caveat: There are some capital gains tax issues that complicate a really good analysis of all the details here since they’d come into play much later and it’s not clear to me how either plan would treat sale of small businesses even assuming the plan was still in effect when they were sold.

Caveat 2: Taxes and prosperity are tricky. Some think that taxing the rich inhibits economic development to the degree it reduces *everybody’s* prosperity. e.g. if his job is lost Joe the Plumber makes nothing.

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About JoeDuck

Internet Travel Guy, Father of 2, small town Oregon life. BS Botany from UW Madison Wisconsin, MS Social Sciences from Southern Oregon. Top interests outside of my family's well being are: Internet Technology, Online Travel, Globalization, China, Table Tennis, Real Estate, The Singularity.
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56 Responses to Debate about Joe the Plumber could not get any dumber

  1. Metroknow says:

    Joe – I agree. This is the most out of touch I think I’ve ever seen McCain – he simply has no idea of reality if he thinks any plumber (or any common person in the working class) in America makes $250K in _Taxable_ income. If you just think about it for two seconds: That means that if good ol’ Joe is going to NET $250,001.00 in a year (putting him over the threshold), what would his monthly _take home pay_ be?

    250,001.00 x 12 months = $20,833.42.

    That means, after taxes, he comes home each month with a $20,000 paycheck.

    Do you know any plumbers whose takehome pay is $20,000 a month?

    What’s more, even if he did exceed that $250,000 in taxable income, his taxes only increase on the difference, and it’s only a 3% increase on that small portion. So in our little example, Wealthy Joe would be paying 3% extra on exactly $1.00 which equals…

    An American dream-crushing .03 cents.

    I have rarely been this embarrassed by the obvious ignorance of educated people in this nation who seem to think that simply shouting louder makes them right. No honest person would actually believe that anyone in the working class makes anywhere near that kind of take home pay – if we did, there would be no housing crisis, and we’d all be rolling that money into investments like mad men. And if I am grossly wrong here, and blue-collar jobs actually do average that kind of take home pay, what is the point of sending our kids to college if they could just get a laborer job at a construction company (many of which I’ve had), and expect that after working hard for a few years they’d be taking home a whopping $20,000 a month in spending money?

    C’mon people. Stop believing the fear-mongering and just think about it.

  2. JoeDuck says:

    Yes, your point about the extra tax only on the difference is important as well though it’s also something a *remarkable* number of people do not understand.

    I’m having to explain to a guy at another site that you subtract expenses from revenues to figure this tax – incredibly he was thinking the tax is on *receipts*. McCain is helping to perpetuate the nonsense view.

    Obama is not handling this well. Joe the Plumber is *better off* under his tax plan and McCain is simply lying when he suggests Joe would pay less under his plan. It’s sort of like the Bridge to Nowhere “fight” by Palin – it is simply false but repeated so much people think it’s true.

    Of course you can make a case that giving people money – as Obama plans to do – is a bad idea. But you can’t make a case that giving people money is….taking it away.

  3. glenn says:

    It has nothing to do with a plumber making more than $250k a year. It is about a small biz making more than $250k a year.

    Not a fair comparison to put a sole proprietorship in with s-corps or c’s.

    In fact as a sole propietorship under Obama that person’s taxes are going to skyrocket to over 50%…that is a fact.

    The real point about Joe the Plumber for the American people is the following:

    If you vote for Obama you are voting for a country that will NO longer tolerate any perceived negative question of our leaders. That is more dangerous than any tax increase but that is exactly where we are headng.

  4. JCH says:

    Bob the Banker does good math and he is NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE:

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/kamiya/2008/10/21/taxes/

    LMAO.

  5. JCH says:

    I keep seeing this on the internet. They are claiming Joe the Plumber would owe 7500 if his taxable income is 250,001.00 instead of 250,000. What they are doing is taking 36% times 250,000, and 39% times 250,001. The difference is 7500,

    Lol.

    These guys are brilliant. The difference between the two is 3 cents.

  6. glenn says:

    (4) Salon…lol…I didn’t even realize they were still in business.

    JCH hasn’t it occurred to you that free markets are proving how bad the far left is for the country…they are all literally going arse end up and out of business.

    You better pray for the Fairness Doctrine…lol

  7. JoeDuck says:

    Glenn what are you saying?

    Yes we are talking Sole Proprietor here.
    Few small businesses make over 250k.
    Joe the Plumber’s would not (see above),
    Therefore his taxes would be *less* under Obama.

    Which part of that don’t you agree with?

  8. Metroknow says:

    @Glenn: I think this is a common misunderstanding based on an incorrect statement Obama made, which he should have corrected at the time. His tax plan does not increase taxes on businesses with gross receipts over $250k – it is the NET profit that is above $250k – in other words, if you net over $250k in pure business profit, AFTER expenses (like payroll, operating costs, and reinvestment, though that is a complicated tax area), the tax on the amount above $250K would be taxed at a slightly higher rate. There are very, very few small businesses that show net profit over $250,000 (most legitimate estimates cite 2%) – and if they do, they need to hire a better accountant to help with a reinvestment/tax strategy (which if you were walking away with $250K in net profit, after expenses, you can definitely afford a better accountant.)

    So the fact is not that a small business that makes $250k (which makes it sound like gross receipts) will pay any more tax – regardless of the spin McCain’s camp puts on it. It is the net, taxable profit, after business expenses, which in this economy, is rare.

    If folks really want to know the truth about tax changes, read the impartial analysis that was done by the Tax Policy Center (including the Brookings Institution). With no crassness intended, it does include very easy to understand charts that show the Obama and McCain plan side-by-side – very useful for getting the picture that it is the top quintiles (the wealthiest 2% of the country) that will see any tax increase. Everyone else, especially Joe the Plumber, will see tax relief. Here’s the link: http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/UploadedPDF/411741_updated_candidates.pdf

  9. JoeDuck says:

    Good links – thx…. though from those charts it looks like family businesses making 250k would pay less tax then now under both plans but less taxes under McCain. At my 170 estimate above it looks like Joe the Plumber’s taxes under McCain and Obama would be very close to the same amount, and less than now.

    Wow – the one certain thing is that the national debt is going to go up, up, up under all plans.

  10. glenn says:

    (8) That tax policy center is a liberal organization and any analysis they do will be liberal leaning.

    These guys all play games with the numbers. If you look at Obama’s record and the rest of the liberal congress they have an outrageous record of tax hikes.

    Did you see Barney Franks’s interview yesterday?

    These guys are going to raise taxes on everyone.

    No one is mentioning the expiration of the Bush tax cuts – those by default will effectively raise taxes on 100% of Americans when they expire.

    If you think for one second that under Obama/Pelosi/Frank/Dodd/Reid, etc that 95% of tax paying Americans are going to get a REAL tax cut then you just haven’t looked at their voting records.

    Rhetoric is one thing, but reality is very different.

    Barack Obama ran on a tax cut for the middle class in Illinois. He never did it and in fact he never even introduced any type of legislation that would tax cuts and voted over 300 times to raise taxes on EVERYONE.

    They will spend over $1 trillion in new spending during his first four years even in this economy. Where do you think that money is going to come from?

    The wealthy are not going to sit idly by and just be taxed and continue to grow the economy. Any tax increase on anyone at this point is suicide for our economy.

    And conveniently enough no one is talking about the GDP which is far more important than a middle class tax cut or a welfare program. Because if you are serious about GDP you will see that Obama’s plan fails there and it opens us up to serious foreign manipulation.

    An increase in taxes, increase in unions, increase in protectionism is going to be big steps backward for our economy.

    The adoption of the Freedom of Choice Act and the Fairness Doctrine is also going to cause outrage from the majority of Americans.

    Obama will be tested within the first 6 months. Even if he is successful with his major test he will be a weakened president just like Kennedy was. Given the international situations, the global economy the time just isn’t right for Obama.

  11. glenn says:

    (9) JCH if you use the chart at the Washington Post McCain’s overall plan is much better than Obama’s. 100% of America’s working families get a tax cut.

    The difference between the tax cuts is negligible – it wouldn’t have even made up for the difference in the ridiculous gas prices this year.

    With our economy right now literally all economists agree any increase in taxes will slow our economy down even more. No one is saying McCain’s plan will slow down the economy but everyone is arguing whether or not Obama’s will.

    McCain’s tax plan is a fair distribution of tax cut based on who produces what. For some reason the Democrats love to redefine words like “fair” and “patriotism”. It is the same with schools grading on the curve – let’s all strive for a level of mediocrity instead of a level of excellence.

    Obama’s tax plan is going to suffer the laffer curve and we will actually capture less in tax receipts. That is going to lead to an even larger budget deficit.

    When you look at our national budget deficits now over $400 billion (doesn’t include bail-out) and you see we are spending close to that each year in interest payments alone on our national debt it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out exactly where we are.

    This is the year this must stop. We cannot make our interest payments today without creating a budget deficit – don’t you get it? If this were a business or a family they would be filling for bankruptcy.

    Our only choice will be to continue borrowing money from foreign sources and it is already at a level where it is a national security issue. One big problem with borrowing foreign money – we have no control (except militarily) to stop them from calling the debt.

    Our budgets need to be balanced and a serious effort needs to happen to reduce our national debt.

  12. JCH says:

    “Our budgets need to be balanced and a serious effort needs to happen to reduce our national debt. …”

    Lol. Where were the deficit and the national debt when Clinton came in versus when he left office? He did such a great job he deserved a hummer.

    Freezing federal spending would spark a super depression. It’s the stupidest idea of all.

    We are not even close to bankruptcy.

    Joe – those are average savings/additional tax owed per bracket. Under Obama the average savings would be higher on the low end of the bracket and lower on the top end – additional tax owed would be lower on low end of the bracket and higher on the top end.

    Under McCain – well, it’s looking like an irrelevant discussion.

  13. glenn says:

    (13) JCH where in history has it ever shown that a freeze on Government spending would cause a super depression?

    We know for a fact that increases in Government spending and tax hikes DID IN FACT CREATE The Great Depression.

    You absorb the rhetoric like somehow it is fact, that someone this politician is going to somehow change his stripes?

    Why don’t you spend some time reviewing history and then review Obama’s rhetoric during campaigns as opposed to what he actually delivered?

    Even Kennedy understood that an Obama economic plan will not work in this situation.

  14. glenn says:

    (13) JCH you probably don’t know that our country’s economy has been tanked 6 other times since the Civil War and guess what caused it?

    The liberal left in this country creating housing programs for people that can’t afford it.

    The liberal Democrats keep thinking…this time we will get it right and all the hardworking Americans get stuck with the tab.

  15. JCH says:

    You don’t know jack about Jack kennedy. He was not a true believer in tax cutting forever. Marginal rates were very high when he came into office. Now they are very low. That is a major difference.

    The right claimed Kennedy’s policies would cause a severe inflationary spike. The average inflation during his three years in office was around 1.1%.

    President Bush stated several times that his goal was to build 5.5 million houses by 2010 – for people who had no capacity to pay for them. This a fact. You can’t change it. No man in the history of the earth built more homes for people who had no capacity to pay for them than George Bush.

  16. glenn says:

    (16) There is nothing wrong with stating a goal of building 5.5 million homes in this country.

    However it is wrong to force legitimate and fiscally responsible businesses to loan money to people that have no chance of ever being able to pay it back. That is what Dodd and Frank did.

  17. Paul says:

    THIS is what Republican tax policies get you – the rich get richer and the poor get poorer:

    GAP GROWS BETWEEN RICH AND POOR
    By EMMA VANDORE, AP Business Writer

    PARIS – The gap between rich and poor is getting bigger in the world’s richest countries and particularly the United States as children and low-skilled workers slide deeper into poverty, according to a 30-nation report released Tuesday.

    In a 20-year study of its 30 member countries, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said children and young adults are 25 percent more likely to be poor than the population average with an even larger gap for single-parent families.

    The OECD’s members are mostly developed nations, especially in Europe.

    The United States has the highest inequality and poverty in the OECD after Mexico and Turkey, and the gap has increased rapidly since 2000, the report said. Meanwhile France has seen inequalities fall in the past 20 years as poorer workers are better paid.

    At the same time, retiree poverty has fallen in many countries, the report said.

    OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria urged governments to address the “divisive” issue of growing inequality. He said they should do more to educate the whole work force and not just the elite while helping people join the work force and boosting incomes for working families, rather than relying on social benefits.

    “Greater income inequality stifles upward mobility between generations, making it harder for talented and hard-working people to get the rewards they deserve,” he said in a statement.

    “It polarizes societies, it divides regions within countries, and it carves up the world between rich and poor.”

    Efforts by governments to curb poverty by redistributing wealth through social policies are becoming less effective as low-skilled workers find it ever harder to find work, the report said.

    In the United States, the richest 10 percent earn an average of US$93,000, the highest level in the OECD. The poorest 10 percent earn an average of US$5,800, about 20 percent lower than the OECD average.

    Social mobility is lowest in countries with high inequality such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Italy, the report said.

    Since 2000, income inequality and poverty have grown fastest in Germany, although it remains below the OECD average.

    In Britain and Japan, inequalities have been falling since 2000 although the gap between the rich and the poor is still greater in the United Kingdom than in three-quarters of OECD countries.

    The report covers the 20 years from 1985-2005, but the trends it highlights are valid through today, the OECD said.

  18. glenn says:

    (18) Paul what exactly are the poor doing to get poorer?

    My first IPO I created over 100 millionaires that were the average Joe. All walks of life from all over the globe.

    We all had one thing in common – we worked our butts off to make it happen.

    You can’t legislate prosperity.

    There will always be rich and poor, there will always be hard workers and slackers…it’s life!

    Quite frankly I would rather put my bet on the hardworking.

    Look at what unions have done to nearly destroy the automotive industry in this country.

  19. Paul says:

    Yes, but you can legislate an aristocracy along the lines of Britain Royal Family where the wealthy pay disproportionately far less than their means should dictate, and that has been the legacy of the last 8 years and beyond.

    From CBO report – 12/07:
    At every income level Americans had more income, after adjusting for inflation in 2005 than in 2003, but the increases ranged from almost imperceptible for the poor to modest for the middle class and largest for those at the top.
    On average, incomes for the top 1 percent of households rose by $465,700 each, or 42.6 percent after adjusting for inflation. The incomes of the poorest fifth rose by $200, or 1.3 percent, and the middle fifth increased by $2,400 or 4.3 percent.

    “Having even more wealth than they had before, the very rich can thus buy even more government supports and giveaways and acquire even more wealth, enabling them to buy even more government supports and giveaways. And so on. The result of great wealth buying public policies is a positive feedback loop, or perhaps a vicious cycle, which transfers ever greater wealth and power to the very rich and away from everyone else.”

  20. Paul says:

    And yes, I am a fan of David Cay Johnston who has thoroughly investigated the above issue and written on it in 2 excellent books.

  21. JCH says:

    Did unions make management decisions? No. Look at what the ownership has done to the auto industry in America.

    The CEO of GM is one of the biggest morons on the planet, and it shows.

    “However it is wrong to force legitimate and fiscally responsible businesses to loan money to people that have no chance of ever being able to pay it back. That is what Dodd and Frank did. …” – Glenn

    Positively false. Bush made them do it. Alphonso Jackson made them do it. AllAyn GreenRandSpam stood by and let it all happen because he was Bush’s lap dog.

    CRA lending did not cause this.

  22. glenn says:

    (22) Actually it was the ACORN lawsuit in Illinois that forced banks to give loans to unqualified borrowers.

    Case Name
    Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank Fed. Sav. Bank Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance
    Docket / Court 94 C 4094 ( N.D. Ill. ) FH-IL-0011
    State/Territory Illinois

    Shocker…Obama was one of the attorneys involved.

    This case was positioned under CRA compliance and it was the main reason banks started giving stupid loans.

    The fact you have to try to keep spinning this away from the truth JCH is that Obama has his hands all over this.

    Follow the money trail, look at who is involved.

    Interesting how you said positively false – kind of like false positive.

    You want to use rhetoric, talking points but you continue to ignore historical fact, and records of what actually happened.

    You are literally the only person in the United States (outside of the elected Democratic officials) that thinks the housing market had nothing to do with this.

    Geesh…

  23. glenn says:

    (22) The great expanse of union power under Carter in the 1970’s totally screwed the automotive industry in this country and everyone knows it.

    Obama wants to take a Carter part deux approach now to fully destroy a very important industry to this country.

  24. Paul says:

    (24) To blame the considerable malaise of the U.S. automotive industry solely on unions is to overlook the massive mistakes made – not by the rank and file – but by the management of Ford and GM. The relied far too much on the lucrative profits of gas guzzling large trucks and SUVs. They abandoned most, if not all, efforts at producing small, fuel-efficient cars.
    When gas went over $4 at the pump, they had far too much inventory in vehicles they now cannot sell, while Toyota, Honda and Nissan had an extensive array of smaller fuel efficient vehicles they had been producing for decades.

    Union challenges at U.S. auto makers are a significant headwind to their survival, but they would never be in this position if upper management had shown even the slightest bit of vision and foresight. Did they learn anything from the gas crisis of the 70s and 80s when the foreign auto makers last cleaned their clocks?!? Nope, seemingly not a thing. Their hubris and incompetence have caused their woes, not the unions alone.

  25. JCH says:

    Talk about a wild-butted exaggeration:

    “He was the very junior lawyer in that case,” said attorney Robert Kriss. “He had just graduated from law school. I don’t recall him being in court at any time I was there. I was the lead lawyer for Citibank and he was not very visible to me.”

    Go ahead and make your case for redlining.

  26. glenn says:

    (26) LOL…so now his inexperience comes to his defense.

    JCH just look at how involved Obama has been involved with ACORN and Fannie Mae.

    Are you going to produce another eyewitness that says…oh he was written all those checks but it wasn’t Obama that directly cashed them – it must have been a staffer.

    (25) Paul unions suck they have no place in a 21st America or economy. The concept of the company store died almost 100 years ago!

  27. Paul says:

    (27) – You utterly disregarded every point made in my post on the management at GM & Ford and their culpability for the problems facing those companies.

  28. JCH says:

    I didn’t just produce an eyewitness, I produced bank’s lead attorney.

    The lawsuit was about redlining, not lending standards.

  29. glenn says:

    (28) Paul the point wasn’t about how good or how bad GM’s executive management is. Why would I defend them?

    The point was the union. Here are the facts:

    GM is at a $2000+ per vehicle cost disadvantage to their Asian counterparts.

    You can’t expect a company to do well against aggressive competitors while you have an artificially inflated base cost due to an outrageous welfare program.

    So for every vehicle that GM produces you can take at least $2000 out per vehicle that could have gone into engineering, R&D, improved plant operations, dealer floor plan financing, marketing, innovation, etc…

    I really don’t think you grasp just how much money that is.

  30. glenn says:

    So now we learn that Obama has lost his lawsuit in PA. By a matter of court record and default Obama admits he was born in Kenya and is not qualified under the constitution of the United States to be running for President.

  31. glenn says:

    Now the liberal media has pulled its correspondents off McCain’s and Palin’s planes…promising a media black out on McCain and Palin now and until the election.

    LOL…but we are not heading toward socialism…

    Sheeple of America unite – vote for the messiah.

  32. Paul says:

    (30) Unions exist because the captains of industry grossly abused their position and lost the trust of the working man. Working conditions in the early part of the 20th century were inhumane, at best, in most industries. Unions were a logical outgrowth of that. This continues to be a very serious problem in developing countries.

    The reality is when companies take care of their employees and treat them in a humane and respectful way (witness Toyota, Honda, Nissan) the UAW can’t get their foot in the door.

    I totally grasp what a disadvantage that is and how much money it is, but I still maintain both auto makers would be in much better shape if they had not been so poorly managed. If Ford and GM go the way of Enron, Worldcom et al then the UAW, for all intents and purposes, will no longer have a constituency and it will be a moot point…but it is an oversimplification to discuss the auto industry and not look at the origins of why unions exist and the good they have done in the past for labor in this country.

  33. glenn says:

    (34) Joe your test was way out of line. I can’t believe you tried to slip that past us. 🙂

  34. glenn says:

    (33) That is why I said the days of the company store are long gone. I agree on why they were created.

    My grandmother was a single mom and worked side by side to a man her entire life and got paid 1/3 what the man did and she did the same job.

    But those days are long gone and to think in 2008 we are still talking about unions and the idea of forcing open ballot voting is nonsense.

  35. Tommo says:

    (34,35) I, too, must decry this — I mean, I know this is Joe’s little corner of the ‘Net, but feeding the (!*&@(*!! test trolls? Alas, Babylon…

  36. Joe Duck says:

    Hey! I gots my rights, I gots my rights! A bit TESTY, aren’t we all?

  37. glenn says:

    (38) Is this really you or have you hired ACORN as well?

  38. Joe Duck says:

    Ha – Screw Acorn, I’d hire this guy if I was in the vote manipulation biz:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Blackwell

    In 2004 in Ohio Blackwell tried to preferentially and illegally enforce a rule that said the *weight* of the paper would disqualify registrations. Even his own offices forms did not qualify as well as standard forms around the state. His ruling was overturned eventually, but had some suppressive effect. It’s hard to measure suppression and I don’t think it turned the 2004 election but I now think it’s clear that without Rove’s strategic suppression of the Florida vote in 2000 Gore would have *easily* won the state even with the butterfly ballots disallowed as they were. (As everybody should know but does not, there is *no rational dispute whatsoever* that the butterfly ballot spoilage lost the election for Gore. It’s not clear you could have done anything about that legally (eg allocate votes proportionally rather than destroy them), but it is clear that in terms of voter intent Gore won Florida. Also not well known, but shown by a Miami Herald recount of every ballot (a great read!), is that even if the Supreme Court recounts had gone through Bush would have won using most of the prevailing counting standards of 2 or more chads disconnected. (Gore did not challenge the factors that lost the election – Palm Beach spoilage and/or voter suppression). Bush was “necessarily” installed as President after losing the Florida election.

    I think if one is truly interested in Democracy working more than partisan concerns, they should be a lot more worried about the suppression efforts, especially in Ohio and Florida. These are simply appalling. The system is very good at finding fraud and very bad at avoiding suppression and ballot spoilage.

    The reason suppression is a lot more worrisome is that it appears they keep a lot of legitimate voters from voting where voter fraud is likely to be very uncommon (convicted felons, for example, even if registered by ACORN, are hardly gung ho to go in and vote illegally).

    I started looking at the situation after the Florida fiasco of 2000 and was really appalled because until then I’d bought the line that fraud was the big deal. I do think fraud helped Kennedy win Illinois thanks to Daley and possibly the mob, but suppression is more relevant now.

    Hmmmm CHICAGO = DALEY = DALEY JR = AYERS = OBAMA!

    😯 INCOMING! 😯

  39. horatiox says:

    Joe the Plumber is relevant to the current debate because he is representative of some middle income Americans who make ballpark of 40-80k per year, would actually benefit in the short term from Obama’s tax plans, but don’t share Obama’s sensibilities about how to run country or the idea that even greater levels of deficit spending than McCain is proposing are a good idea.

    Peruse Obama’s voting record as IL state senator, and you might understand Joe’s concerns (or “Joes” everywhere). Income tax breaks are one thing, but ObamaCo’s pitching those cuts to his faithful followers in public employee unions–cops, schoolmarmies, skilled workers, etc. The small business owner or independent contractor will, if BO’s record is any indication, be paying more taxes via profit taxes of various sorts (Obama was one of a few very liberal politicians to sing off on “commission taxes”).

    So while we may or may not approve of McCain (or his sharpshooter VP– she’s a trifle rustic for most in ‘burbs or urban areas), his record does not match Obama in terms of anti-business decisions. For businesspeople considering the bottom line, Obama does not appear so great. Of course there are other factors–whether civil liberties, energy, etc.—but I don’t think McCain’s that much worse than Obama, tho’ a bit more hawkish (given Obama’s acceptance of Colin Powell’s blessing, however, even that match-up of values seems a bit ambiguous). Obama for that matter has outspent McCain like 8 to 1 on ads, and has triple the budget of McCain (and biblethumps too). So much for the “underdog.”

    I would contend that most American voters do not base their voting decisions on “the issues” anyway; it’s a bit more emotional, if not biological: the Herd sees JFK’s hair (and other “attributes”– explicit, or not) vs Nixon’s, on prime time, and goes for JFK. They see and hear BO–glib, young, professiorial, etc.– vs McCain the old saber-rattler, and they decide, mostly instinctually, and/or unconsciously, for Team Obama. Frau Palin’s effective wolf-totems though might draw a bit more voter-energy to the populist right…..if she like did a Sturgis-Harley thing (as McCain did, sort of), maybe showed her tits, they could conceivably still win this thing…………

  40. JCH says:

    There is little doubt we pick a chief much like the cavemen did it. On the exposed momma boobs – maybe a little difference there.

  41. Joe Duck says:

    They see and hear BO–glib, young, professiorial, etc.– vs McCain the old saber-rattler, and they decide, mostly instinctually, and/or unconsciously, for Team Obama

    Horatiox I think your mini analysis above is largely spot on although I think Obama will govern more moderately than in his Illinois days. ie Taxes under Obama will largely be as described by many nonpartisans – very favorable for lower incomes (basically a cash giveaway), very unfavorable for high. However as anybody who “gets it” knows, the tax brackets which are often quoted are largely irrelevant because big players are paying capital gains taxes on most of the big payouts, and these are only modestly higher under Obama.

    I do agree with you and Glenn that Obama’s more likely to overspend than McCain but I don’t agree that hammering the rich is necessarily a bad idea. I’m very interested in how tax rates affected things in the current financial crisis. Before the meltdown I would have agreed with the idea that rewarding risk with lower taxes on the wealthy (as Bush has done) is good economic policy, but that case gets weaker the more we plunge into the coming recession (I think we’ll make “depression” before this is over.

    The big picture to me so far, oversimplified I’m sure, is this economic 1-2-3 punch:

    1) Greenspan, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and many others in power successfully made the case that higher risks and lower taxes on the rich were great for the economy. They expressed extreme confidence that the derivatives market, esp. MBS’s and swaps, were structured in a way that reduced risks to manageable and reasonable levels.

    2) We the people foolishly assumed the experts knew what the heck they were talking about and jumped on board, taking on debt to buy what we thought were low risk real estate and investment opportunities.

    3) The mortgage market bubble burst and the derivative risks were much higher than assumed by the experts, leading to the current crisis and likely a mild to moderate depression.

  42. Joe Duck says:

    JCH ? I think we may need some elaboration on the “exposed boobs” theory of Presidential Politic Picking, though I certainly agree we still think a lot like we have for thousands of years, though now we tend to fill in the facts as we rationalize our decisions.

  43. glenn says:

    (42) Joe unfortunately our politicians seem to be continually in favor of some really stupid ideas.

    There needs to be a balance with regulation and de-regulation and it is a fluid scenario. Depending on economic factors we should either provide more regulation and or remove regulation.

    But really stupid ideas about giving loans to people who can’t possibly pay them back for houses, cars, etc goes against EVERYTHING our economic systems work on.

    The insane gambling that is allowed on Wall Street and the enormous impact the hedge funds have is really foolish.

    A lot of these short-falls ultimately tie back to either corrupt individuals or people trying to make a fast buck.

    One thing we know for sure given our current recession any new environmental regulations, tax increases and foolish spending is going to spiral our economy into a deep depression. I don’t understand why our “smart” people in Washington just don’t learn from history.

    Nationalization of insurance, 401(k)’s, etc are ALL steps in the wrong direction.

  44. Joe Duck says:

    unfortunately our politicians seem to be continually in favor of some really stupid ideas

    Agree with that for sure.

    Glenn you seem to be blaming the coming recession on future decisions. I’d argue strongly that the current recession is largely the product of ongoing issues and past mistakes. Future remains very uncertain as does the effect of the massive Govt intervention.

  45. glenn says:

    The recession is totally to blame how we have mishandled the economy and created these bubbles in the housing market, automotive finance, oil prices.

    I think gas prices were the final straw the brought the house of cards tumbling down. Notice how gas hasn’t come down enough yet and the utility increases this summer haven’t reversed – total scam on the American people.

    I do think the market tends to forecast out six months and where they tend to see the markets. October is typically a down month but make no mistake this is a recession.

    I think the Obama victory will hasten us toward a depression business and the markets never react well to both government expansion and taxes. Believe me when I tell you the job cuts beginning in November are going to shock a lot of people if Obama is elected.

    For the record I think their will be layoffs over the next 6 months at least regardless of who is elected however I think the degree of drastic cuts will be governed by who takes office.

  46. JCH says:

    The vast majority of the decisions to loan money people to people who had no capacity to pay it back were made be free agents in the free market.

    That is why Greenspan is shocked. There was flaw. Him.

  47. glenn says:

    The AG in Ohio is now investigating the background checks by a max donation Obama supporter within Ohio government. This seems like an outrageous thing to have happen to Joe the Plumber.

    But what I want to know…is where is the ACLU in all of this?

    This is a perfect example of why they created themselves in the first place. Could this be yet another example of the massive hypocrisy of the far left in this country?

  48. JCH says:

    All Joe the Dumber than Dumb has ever been has to do is call up the local ACLU. If they think his individual rights have been violated, and that his case will advance the expansion of individual rights, they will take the case. They have proven this time and time again. If he doesn’t call them, then you have zippo bitch.

  49. glenn says:

    (50) JCH so now you can defend Emanuel…he was a director paid in excess of $250k from Freddie Mac at the height of their corruption.

    No…there is no fix in place here.

    The Democrats are so honorable, honest and have the highest levels of integrity. This whole thing is a farce and it is a shame you as a voter couldn’t be held accountable for your horribly blind decision.

  50. JCH says:

    Freddie and Fannie were allowed to make legal contributions, and congressmen are allowed to accept legal contributions.

    If an investigation finds otherwise, then you would have a reason to post. Right now it’s you attempting yet another immoral smear.

    You are the one who is blinded – by reactionary hatefulness.

  51. glenn says:

    Helen Jones-Kelley was breaking the law with her email communication directly to the Obama campaign.

    According to federal law, government officials are barred from using government resources such as computers in connection with political campaigns.

    But she wasn’t an Obama operative…ROFL…if you don’t believe she did her extensive background checks on Joe the Plumber to help out the Obama campaign you are just plain naive.

    Hopefully she will lose her job and be sent to jail. What she has done is a disgrace to our election process in this country.

    http://www.daytondailynews.com/n/content/oh/story/news/local/2008/11/08/ddn110808joneskelleyside.html?cxtype=rss&cxsvc=7&cxcat=16

    We will see if the MSM picks up on this one.

    Another fine example of the hypocrisy of the left and groups like the ACLU.

    How come Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton aren’t staging rallies for her to be thrown out of her job? Where is the rage from the left over this?

  52. glenn says:

    The 11/20 status report now shows at least 13 violations by Helen Jones-Kelley. She also improperly used state email resources to engage in political activity.

    They also found that the AG’s office failed to prevent a misuse by an agency contractor.

    Hopefully now she will be formerly charged and will be sent to jail for quite a long time, she deserves to be made an example of.

    http://watchdog.ohio.gov/investigations/2008299.pdf

  53. glenn says:

    Why isn’t Helen Jones-Kelley in custody at this point?

  54. xuxppxxuxyyy says:

    hello it is test. WinRAR provides the full RAR and ZIP file support, can decompress CAB, GZIP, ACE and other archive formats.

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