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Small Business Takes Center Stage: Enter Joe the Plumber

The coverage of a plumber named Joe Wurzelbacher and his encounter with presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama, replete with the Senator's admission that he plans to “spread the wealth” has been remarkable, but after last night that little discussion has been elevated to a real campaign issue. Yes, folks, Joe the Plumber, a man who wishes to purchase the business he has worked for all these years, now has a role in the 2008 presidential race, playing the same role that Willie Horton played during the Bush-Dukakis race back in 1988: As a window into the real views and positions of the Democratic presidential candidate.

Back in 1988, the hot issue of the election was crime. Dukakis touted his criminal justice efforts as unqualified successes. Willie Horton actually came up as an issue in the Democratic primaries. He was a sadistic murderer who cut up a 17-year old boy working the counter at a convenience store. The kid, Joey Fournier, gave Horton all the money and was then stabbed 19 times. Horton then stuffed his body into a garbage can. He was arrested, convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole, the maximum sentence in Massachusetts. He was then allowed to enjoy weekend furloughs from prison. He came back nine times, but on the tenth he crossed over into Maryland and attacked a couple in their home, subjecting them to a 12-hour rape and torture experience before stealing their car. He was caught and convicted and sentenced in Maryland to two consecutive life terms plus 85 years. The sentencing judge, Vincent J. Femia, refused to return Horton to Massachusetts, saying, "I'm not prepared to take the chance that Mr. Horton might again be furloughed or otherwise released. This man should never draw a breath of free air again."

The fact that Dukakis, card-carrying member of the ACLU, would permit the weekend release of a violent murderer sentenced to life in prison without parole became a major campaign issue and helped to sink the Governor's presidential bid in spite of the incessant cries of “racism” from the Democrats. America understood very well that the issue had nothing to do with race. It was about releasing violent criminals, who should have never drawn a free breath again, so they could prey on the innocent once again.

Now, twenty years later, the problem isn't crime, it is the economy. We have Joe the Plumber and yet another window into the heart and mind of the democratic candidate for president, a regular guy who just might get across the message that raising taxes small businesses—raising taxes on anyone for that matter—is, as he put it, “completely wrong.”

Appearing on Nightline, Joe told Terry Moran, "To be honest with you, that infuriates me. It's not right for someone to decide you made too much---that you've done too good and now we're going to take some of it back." Joe went on to say that, “If you worked for it, if it was your idea, and you implemented it, it's not right for someone to decide you made too much."

During their encounter, Obama had told Joe that he planned to raise taxes on those making over $200,000 per year in order to “spread the wealth around,” which has proven to be the focal point of a great deal of richly deserved criticism. It also begs the following question: What is the purpose of taxes? Do we pay taxes to pay for necessary government services, or do we pay taxes to redistribute wealth? Apparently, Obama thinks that redistributing wealth is every bit as important as paying for necessary government services.

That seems to be the part that is drawing most of Joe's ire. He rightly points out that he is already overtaxed and that anything more would hurt is ability to purchase the business he is trying to buy. Obama's concern was for those behind Joe. During the debate, he said that Joe should have had his tax cut five years ago. He did. It was Bush's 2003 tax cut, which the Democrats violently opposed, doing their best to limit it in every way they could.

After that performance, should we really look to the Democrats for small business support? Their philosophy seems to have far more in common with Karl Marx than it does with Adam Smith a fact made obvious by Obama's little admission. During good economic times, that would be bad enough; but we are not in good economic times, are we? We are in a recession that is likely to last a while, unemployment is at 6.1%, a tiny but highly vocal and litigious segment of the population is doing its best to make sure that energy prices stay high, we are sending billions of dollars overseas of oil and other reasons and burrowing like mad to make up the difference. If ever there was a time to work for prosperity, to get the nation's economic engine going, that time is now.

Prosperity means that the chains are taken off of the American economy and it is allowed to do its work. Prosperity means that businesses are encouraged—I mean really encouraged—to make money, to expand, to hire people; you know, to prosper. Prosperity means giving everyone an equal chance, not guaranteeing an equal outcome. It means all of these things, but one thing prosperity does not mean is spreading the wealth around. In fact, prosperity means taking the wealth you have earned and using it to create more wealth.

In an article appearing on, Columbia University economist and Nobel Prize winner Robert Mundell, says that ending the Bush tax cuts—as proposed by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama—would cause "a big recession, a nosedive," while he called an abrupt tax increase “lethal.”

According to Mundell, making the Bush tax cuts permanent would eliminate economic uncertainty, which he says is more important than pushing for a further cut in the income tax rates." Mundell also advises lowering the top marginal tax rates from 35% to 30% and cutting the corporate tax rate to 25% in order to stimulate the economy and allow us to grow our way out of the crisis we are in.

Joe the Plumber knows that well enough, even without Ivy League degrees. He knows that higher taxes do not lead to prosperity, they lead to stagnation and they lead to failure. Small business owners all over America know the same thing, and they know that the policies outlined by Senator Obama will harm them terribly.

We have a choice in November, a candidate that will harm small business or one that will support small business; a candidate that will follow a Marxist approach to the economy or one that wants American Free Market Capitalism to do it work.

Choose wisely.