Contradicting own reporting, McClatchy repeated McCain's claim that Obama would raise taxes on business Joe the Plumber wants to buy

››› ››› MORGAN WEILAND

An October 28 McClatchy Newspapers article reported that Sen. John McCain "hammered" Sen. Barack Obama "as someone who'd ... rais[e] taxes on small businesses, much like the plumbing business in Ohio that 'Joe the Plumber' Wurzelbacher said he wanted to buy someday." In fact, McClatchy itself noted in an October 18 article that Wurzelbacher would not likely see a tax increase under Obama's plan if he bought the plumbing business.

In an October 28 McClatchy Newspapers article, chief political correspondent Steven Thomma wrote that Sen. John McCain "hammered" Sen. Barack Obama "as someone who'd ... rais[e] taxes on small businesses, much like the plumbing business in Ohio that 'Joe the Plumber' Wurzelbacher said he wanted to buy someday." In fact, as McClatchy itself reported in an October 18 article, Wurzelbacher would not likely see a tax increase under Obama's plan if he bought the plumbing business that "he wanted to buy someday."

Obama has proposed raising taxes only on individuals earning more than $200,000 per year and families earning more than $250,000 per year. As Media Matters for America has noted, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center, 1.9 percent of tax filers declaring small-business income in 2009 will be in the top two income-tax brackets -- which currently includes all individuals earning more than $160,850 and all families earning more than $195,850. Obama has also proposed tax cuts for small businesses.

But McCain has repeatedly asserted, including during the October 15 presidential debate, that Wurzelbacher would "pay much higher taxes" if he purchased the plumbing business -- a claim McClatchy uncritically repeated in the October 28 article. However, McClatchy's David Lightman reported in the October 18 article that "[m]edia reports found that the business' estimated total annual revenue was about $100,000" and that "[e]ven if its income reached above $250,000," which refers to the amount of profits the company earned rather than its total annual revenue, "Obama's higher rate would only apply to amounts above that."

In an October 16 blog post, ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper wrote that according to ABC News' Chris Bury, Wurzelbacher "acknowledged that he wants to purchase the plumbing business for $250-280,000, not that he would net that much in profits. He would make much less, he said." Tapper also noted that "Wurzelbacher this morning told ABC News' Diane Sawyer that he was talking about, in Diane's words, the prospect, the hope that someday he would make $250,000."

Wurzelbacher has also reportedly acknowledged that based on his current income, "[i]f you believe him [Obama], I would be receiving his tax cut."

From Lightman's October 18 McClatchy Newspapers article, headlined "Out of Bounds: McCain distorts Joe's story":

Much of the Wurzelbacher story has been shown to be incorrect. He's not a licensed plumber in Ohio, according to state officials, and while his boss, Al Newell, is, Ohio law requires a plumber to register with the state and then seek a local license. Wurzelberger's [sic] estimate that the business makes between $250,000 and $280,000 a year turned out also to be exaggerated. Media reports found that the business' estimated total annual revenue was about $100,000. Even if its income reached above $250,000, Obama's higher rate would only apply to amounts above that. Plus, Wurzelberger [sic] has said he has no precise plans to buy the company anytime soon.

From Thomma's October 28 McClatchy Newspapers article:

The Arizona senator scored sharp gains on the pivotal issue of jobs and the economy in the past week, helping him gain a bit on front-runner Barack Obama and narrow the presidential race as it heads into the final week, according to an Ipsos/McClatchy Poll released Tuesday.

The poll found Obama's margin over McCain on who's stronger on jobs and the economy -- by far the top issue in the country -- down from 16 points to 7 points in one week.

The Illinois senator's loss of ground on that benchmark question came as McCain hammered him repeatedly as someone who'd give taxpayers' money to the poor and pay for it by raising taxes on small businesses, much like the plumbing business in Ohio that "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher said he wanted to buy someday.

Posted In
Economy, Taxes
Network/Outlet
McClatchy Newspapers
Person
Steve Thomma
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, 2008 Elections
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