Monday, October 20, 2008

Joe Better Off With Obama

Listen up Joe.... today Nobel economist Paul Krugman tells us about "The Real Plumbers of Ohio." (NYTimes)

Krugman explains, "Forty years ago, Richard Nixon made a remarkable marketing discovery. By exploiting America’s divisions — divisions over Vietnam, divisions over cultural change and, above all, racial divisions — he was able to reinvent the Republican brand. The party of plutocrats was repackaged as the party of the 'silent majority,' the regular guys — white guys, it went without saying — who didn't like the social changes taking place."

This laid the foundation for the original everyman Joe, the G.O.P.'s "Joe six pack" .... "It was a winning formula. And the great thing was that the new packaging didn't require any change in the product’s actual contents — in fact, the G.O.P. was able to keep winning elections even as its actual policies became more pro-plutocrat, and less favorable to working Americans, than ever."

Fast forward to the 2008 presidential campaign. "John McCain’s strategy, in this final stretch, is based on the belief that the old formula still has life in it.

"Thus we have Sarah Palin expressing her joy at visiting the 'pro-America' parts of the country.... McCain making Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, a k a Joe the Plumber... the centerpiece of his attack on Barack Obama’s economic proposals.

"And when it turned out that the right’s new icon had a few issues, like not being licensed and comparing Obama to Sammy Davis Jr., conservatives played victim: see how much those snooty elitists hate the common man?"

So.... what's the situation of the real plumbers of Ohio? In 2007.... the "Bush boom" years.... according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income of “plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters” in Ohio was $47,930. A far cry from the $250,000 income the wanna-be plumber Joe.... who himself earned $40,000 that year.... was querying Obama about.

And this is to say nothing about the lack of medical insurance available to employees, like plumbers, of small businesses, or the decreasing income, rising costs and home market squeeze since 2007.

Krugman asks.... "Who is really standing up for Ohio's plumbers?"

"McCain proposes continuing Bush’s policies in all essential respects, and he shares Bush’s anti-government, anti-regulation philosophy.

"What about the claim, based on Joe the Plumber’s complaint, that ordinary working Americans would face higher taxes under Obama? Well, Obama proposes raising rates on only the top two income tax brackets...."

Krugman concludes, "I don’t want to suggest that everyone would be better off under the Obama tax plan. Joe the plumber would almost certainly be better off, but Richie the hedge fund manager would take a serious hit.

"But that’s the point. Whatever today’s G.O.P. is, it isn’t the party of working Americans."

November 4. Vote. It matters!

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