Thursday, October 16, 2008

McCain does better, but was it enough?

McCain had his best debate last night. But after 90 minutes of poking and prodding, he didn't succeed in knocking Obama off his calm and cool perch. He opened by stressing how "angry" Americans are. But as MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews pointed out, Americans, coping with a financial crisis that's still playing out, are more fearful than they're angry.

McCain himself was angry, but with the temperamentally even Obama just a few feet away, the Republican candidate's thrombotic face was an unsettling visual. I think a lot of voters, particularly the undecided, are thinking about the consequences of a 72-year-old man pacing about the Oval Office in a semi-perpetual state of high dudgeon.

McCain did score points by riffing about "Joe the Plumber,"
who, in a campaign encounter with Obama outside of Toledo, Ohio, a few days ago, expressed concern about paying higher taxes under Obama if he bought his employer's business, which "makes $250,0000 to $280,000 a year." Obama's ceiling for his tax decreases to wage earners is $250,000.

But debating what Joe Wurzelbacher would actually pay under the Obama tax plan is fruitless without knowing specifics. Are Wurzelbacher's numbers for the company's net income as a business (subject to 35 percent federal taxes) or for what his personal income would be from the business?

Wurzelbacher says he would expand the plumbing business if he bought it. That would earn him tax credits of $3,000 per each new employee for a maximum of two years under Obama's plan. is now reporting that "Samuel J. Wurzelbacher" has a lien of $1,182.92 for unpaid taxes against him in Lucas County, Ohio, which includes the Toledo area.

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