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McCain and Obama on Taxes for Small Business Owners

Posted by: Nick Leiber on October 16, 2008

Whose tax policies are better for small business owners? That’s a question that continued to be raised in last night’s final presidential debate, with both candidates using the example of Joe Wurzelbacher, a 34-year-old Ohio plumber to explain their positions.

Here’s a piece from today’s New York Times that shows how Wurzelbacher found himself in the spotlight, and then goes on to try to answer the tax question:

Over the weekend, Mr. Obama was campaigning near Toledo when Mr. Wurzelbacher, a burly, bald man with a goatee, approached the candidate to confront him with the ultimate bread-and-butter question.

“I’m getting ready to buy a company that makes $250,000 to $280,000 a year,” he told Mr. Obama. “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?”

Mr. Obama acknowledged that might turn out to be the case. He talked about the tax credits he plans to offer if elected, listened respectfully as Mr. Wurzelbacher offered the notion of a flat tax, but ended up defending his own position before shaking Mr. Wurzelbacher’s hand and wishing him well.

Mr. McCain seized on that encounter in Wednesday night’s debate, citing “Joe the Plumber” as a symbol of how Mr. Obama’s tax policies would hurt small businesses.

Reader Comments

Dale Huddleston

October 16, 2008 5:25 PM

Joe the Plumber? How bout, I'm in the military, retiring next year, was going to start a small business, a series of auto laser washes. My wife and I have worked 25 years, saving money to do this. I'm 47 years old. I remember my dad's stories about Pres. Carter late 70's, and I recall there being statements "I won't over tax middle class." "I want to work for better health care & social programs. Guess what happened? Govt spending went thru the roof, and taxes too. Check out this "An argument against Obama's tax plan. Will he raise taxes, yep!


October 16, 2008 7:05 PM

Well, looking at the history of the two political parties and looking at the actual candidates I am confident that McCain will increase growth for businesses and job opportunities by cutting taxes. So, yeah that's a no brainer. "Think Hoover" "Think Depression" Please, just think this upcoming election...


October 16, 2008 7:30 PM

What kind of a choice do we have?

Is it better to raise taxes (D)?

or keep borrowing more and more (R)?


October 17, 2008 3:03 PM

Hey Willy - It's better to LOWER taxes and CONTROL spending. Sort of like we do in business; borrow when needed but watch excess spending until the loan is paid back. The government insiders don't believe that principle applies to them. And by the way - it wasn't the "(R)"s that tipped this $ 3/4 TRILLION housing problem on top of the US tax payers.


October 18, 2008 10:12 AM

Cutting government deeply should be job one. Our tax base should be based only to Constitunal consideration ( military, etc). We are entangled around the world inappropriately which creates incredible financial burden to our citizens. Free-trade, unburdened with tarrifs, the IRS code and Government intervention is the only way have a sustained healthy economy. (yes, even the consumer can better regulate safety and environmental concerns with their spending choices than can the govt can impose. We just need to force the pendelum to swing back the other way.
I am surprised that we missed this completely in our primary candidacy selection again. The two front runners are missing vital understanding to lead our economy to it's optimal performance. Socialism never works. Tax and mediocre spending cuts for all is only the tip of the iceburg. The voice of reason is missing from the driver seat at this time. The speed of the the speed of the Team.

Jesse Hines

October 20, 2008 11:44 PM

It boggles my mind that anyone thinks the way to grow the economy and create jobs is to tax businesses, especially small businesses.

Government doesn't create jobs. Businesses do.

I have known some small business owners who are more socially liberal, but who think twice about their vote because they know Democrats will raise their taxes and make business more difficult for them.

Christine Janssen

October 31, 2008 7:03 PM

I don't know about you, but I've been beyond addicted to the news lately, between the upcoming election and the debacle happening down here on Wall Street. Frustrated with the lack of solid information and details provided to the public, I began a personal mission to dig up some political facts to better understand how each of the Presidential candidates might impact me as a small business owner. Realizing that so many other entrepreneurs were just as confused and hungry for information, I turned my personal quest into a research report to share with every other small business owner in this country. I just spent a countless number of hours over the last six weeks scouring through all sorts of websites, reports, and articles - from the Wall Street Journal to The Tax Policy Center to the National Federation of Independent Business. The overall purpose of this
project was to find facts using valid and reliable sources and to present my findings in an easy-to-compare format WITHOUT biases. Click here to access the entire article, which is posted on my site within The Library:

The article is entitled “How will the next President of the United States impact you as a small business owner?”

Please share this with every entrepreneur you know to make sure they are well educated on these issues and make an intelligent choice on November 4th. And, in addition this blog, I invite you to voice your comments/concerns/opinions on my blog ( If you scroll all the
way down to the bottom, there's an entry on the lower left under the same title as the article. Let me know if you have any outstanding questions. I’ll do my best to find answers for you. It's what I do for a living...

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What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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