The Columbus Dispatch reported yesterday that invasive state government searches into the private files of Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher actually ran deeper than first reported, and included inquiries into whether he owed unemployment taxes or was receiving state welfare benefits.
The Dispatch quotes Helen Jones-Kelley, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, who explains the reasoning behind the searches:
"Given our understanding that Mr. Wurzelbacher had publicly indicated that he had the means to purchase a substantial business enterprise, ODJFS, consistent with past departmental practice, checked confidential databases ," she wrote.
"Not surprisingly, when a person behind in child support payments or receiving public assistance is receiving significant media attention which suggests that the person appears to have available financial resources, the Department risks justifiable criticism if it fails to take note and respond," Jones-Kelley wrote.
Jones-Kelley is suggesting that Werzelbacher's question to Obama implied that he has "the means to purchase a substantial business enterprise." Bravo. Sierra. Here's what Werzelbacher actually told Barack Obama:
Obama: What's your name?
Joe: My name's Joe Wurzelbacher.
Obama: Good to see you, Joe.
Joe: I'm getting ready to buy a company that makes about $250,000 … $270-$280,000 a year.
Obama: All right.
Joe: Your new tax plan's gonna tax me more, isn't it?
Obama: Well, here's what's gonna happen. If you're a small business which you would qualify as, first of all, you'd get a 50 percent tax credit, so you get a cut on taxes for your health care costs. So you would actually get a tax cut on that front. If your revenue is above $250,000, then from $250,000 down, your taxes are gonna stay the same. It is true that for … say, from $250,000 up, from $250,000 to $300,000 or so …
Joe: Well, here's my question …
Obama: I just want to answer your question. So, for that additional amount, you'd go from 36 to 39 percent, which is what it was under Bill Clinton. And the reason we're doing that is because 95 percent of small businesses make less than $250,000 so what I want to do is give them a tax cut. I want to give all these folks who are bus drivers, teachers, auto workers who make less … I want to give them a tax cut and so what we're doing is, we are saying that folks who make more than $250,000 that that marginal amount above $250,000, they're gonna be taxed at a 39 instead of a 36 percent rate.
Joe: Well, the reason why I ask you about the American Dream I mean, I work hard. I'm a plumber, I work 10-12 hours a day …
Joe: … and I'm, you know, buying this company and I'm gonna continue to work that way. Now, if I buy another truck and adding something else to it and, you know, build the company, you know, I'm getting taxed more and more while fulfilling the American Dream.
Obama: Well, here's a way of thinking about it. How long have you been a plumber? How long have you been working?
Joe: Fifteen years.
Obama: Okay. So, over the last 15 years, when you weren't making $250,000, you would have been getting a tax cut from me. So you'd actually have more money, which means you would have saved more, which means that you would have gotten to the point where you could build your small business quicker than under the current tax code. So there are two ways of looking at it. I mean, one way of looking at it is, now that you've become more successful …
Joe: Through hard work.
Obama: … through hard work, you don't want to be taxed as much.
This short exchange was then followed by Obama's long-winded "spread the wealth around" explanation.
Joe simply says, "I'm getting ready to buy a company that makes about $250,000 … $270-$280,000 a year." He doesn't say what the company is worth. He doesn't say what he will be paying for the company. He doesn't say when he will purchase it. He doesn't imply that such a purchase is already in the works. Jones-Kelley wants us to think that any responsible citizen -- after hearing this exchange -- would assume that Joe The Plumber is rolling in money, and would want the state to make sure that he isn't on the welfare rolls and doesn't owe any taxes. She tries to make herself look like a heroine, looking after the best interests of John. Q. Ohio Public, but she is simply making stuff up in order to cover her own ass. Period.
By her standards, anyone who mentions, in public, a future goal of attaining wealth is immediately considered a fair target for a state investigation, on the assumption that you wouldn't be telling your dream to someone else unless you already had the "available finances" to make your dream into an immediate reality. What utter nonsense.
Over at WizBang, Steve Schippert notes,
ADDED: Another state employee, Vanessa Niekamp, is now contradicting Jones-Kelly's ridiculous explanation:
Director Helen Jones-Kelley said her agency checks people who are “thrust into the public spotlight,” amid suggestions they may have come into money, to see if they owe support or are receiving undeserved public assistance.
Niekamp told The Dispatch she is unfamiliar with the practice of checking on the newly famous. “I’ve never done that before, I don’t know of anybody in my office who does that and I don’t remember anyone ever doing that,” she said today. (emphasis added)