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Heading into the final presidential debate of the 2008 election, Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) found himself behind in the polls. He needed a big victory to turn around his campaign and accordingly threw the kitchen sink, along with a plumber, at Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) during the final face-off Wednesday night at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

However, Obama didn't flinch at McCain's attacks. He remained on firm footing and portrayed himself as a defender of the average Joe, including an undecided plumber from Toledo, Ohio.

Obama chats with "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher.

How did a plumber from Ohio get such prominent mention in a key presidential debate? McCain continually used Joe Wurzelbacher as an example of someone against Obama's tax plan. Wurzelbacher had shown up at an Obama campaign event in Toledo on Tuesday and voiced his objection to Obama's tax plans, saying it could prevent him from buying a plumbing business.

McCain said in the debate:
"Joe wants to buy the business that he has been in for all of these years, worked 10, 12 hours a day. He wanted to buy the business, but he looked at your tax plan and he saw that he was going to pay much higher taxes. You were going to put him in a higher tax bracket, which was going to increase his taxes, which was going to cause him not to be able to employ people, which Joe was trying to realize the American dream."
Obama plans to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire. This would mean that taxpayers in the top bracket would return to paying a tax rate of 39% as they did under President Clinton. Obama tried to clear up his tax plans for voters:
"What I've said is I want to provide a tax cut for 95 percent of working Americans, 95 percent. If you make more -- if you make less than a quarter million dollars a year, then you will not see your income tax go up, your capital gains tax go up, your payroll tax. Not one dime."

So Joe the Plumber would face higher taxes only if he earned more than $250,000.

Of course, if he earned that much then he would be in exclusive company. Almost every small business owner makes much less than that and would get a tax cut under Obama's plan.

Oddly enough, McCain assailed Obama for taxing small business. He made some big promises to Joe the Plumber:
"Now Sen. Obama talks about the very, very rich. Joe, I want to tell you, I'll not only help you buy that business that you worked your whole life for and be able -- and I'll keep your taxes low and I'll provide available and affordable health care for you and your employees."

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