Joe Wurzelbacher is now America's most famous working-class guy. The 34-year old plumber from northern Ohio is enjoying his Warholian fifteen minutes. Fox News is doing an exclusive interview with him tomorrow night.
I'm not sure what Joe makes, but it's surely nowhere close to $250,000, although plumbers are among the best paid construction workers, in part because nearly one third of them belong to trade unions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides detailed data on plumbers in its annual occupational employment statistics report. "Median hourly earnings of wage and salary plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters were $20.56," reports the BLS. The middle 50 percent earned between $15.62 and $27.54. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $12.30, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $34.79. The annual median wage for plumbers in the Toledo area is $62,070. Not bad, but nowhere close to the Obama tax threshold of a quarter million. And he probably never will be. There aren't many plumbers making hefty six digit salaries.
But even if Joe makes $62,070 (and he probably does not, because his company isn't unionized, he doesn't have a plumbing license, and he does mostly small home repair jobs), what's clear is that Joe's taxes are not going up in the next four years, unless John McCain taxes his health insurance benefits.
The Republican tactic has long been to play to people's fears--and that's just what's going on with Joe. The poor guy, whatever his politics are, is becoming a tool of the right-wing. But whether or not the now-famous Ohio plumber supports McCain or Obama or even bothers to vote, let's hope that the rest of the electorate gives the Republican ticket the flush.