October 21, 2008

McCain's New Myth - Joe the Plumber

After the American Century

In case anyone missed it, John McCain has tried to make Obama look bad by emphasizing the plight of an Ohio plumber "Joe." The gist of the argument, if it can be called that, is that poor Joe (who it turns out has made racist remarks and is not in fact a licensed plumber) would be taxed by the Obama tax plan, which will raise taxes on those who make more than $250,000 a year, (more than 1.3 million Danish Kroner). Paul Krugman, who is this year's Nobel Prize winner in economics, has demolished this silly myth in a column in the New York Times that I highly recommend.

The Republican gambit, as ever, is to claim the GOP represents a silent middle class white majority. But this mythological group is getting smaller and harder to find, not least because of the Bush tax policies that have hammered the middle class. As Krugman points out, the plumbers of Ohio, on average, make less than $50,000 a year. They are not by any stretch of the imagination close to being potential victims of a tax increase. Rather, all of them have been victims of Bush's 2001 tax cuts for the rich, which McCain wants to make permanent. The plumbers of the nation in 2008 have less real income today than they did in 2001, and their dollar is worth less abroad, too. Worst of all, the middle class is now going to pay for the failed deregulation of Wall Street investment banks, which McCain also supported.

McCain is really quite shameless in lying to hard working people and pretending his policies will not continue to push them down. The Republicans engage in class warfare, but pretend to be the friends of labor. Anyone who doubts this can look at the Statistical Abstract of the United States for 2008, which documents the declining wealth of the working class and the middle class, in more detail than McCain has ever mastered. As I noted a few days ago in his space, according to the Statistical Abstract, from 2000 until 2005, the average white family lost $1,300 in annual income, in constant dollars, and it has gotten worse since then. It would be nice to have a Republican candidate, maybe in 2012, who made valid economic arguments rather than just shouting the same misinformation day after day. McCain has repeated this nonsense about Obama raising taxes for months now. Once a man of honor, he now has no shame.