CBS: 4 Out of 5 ‘Average Joes’ Would Get More From Obama Tax Plan

Harry Smith, CBS After smearing Joe the Plumber on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith turned to a group of his own hand selected ‘average Joes’ to defend Barack Obama’s tax plan: "I'll tell you, we have assembled a panel of 'average Joes.' Joe the plumber, the most famous person in America now. Well, we have five Joes here this morning, from various walks of life, and we're going to put their incomes to the test against the candidates' tax plans and see how it will affect them all." Financial analyst Jennifer Openshaw then proceeded to examine the personal financial situations of each "Joe" and concluded that four of them would save more money under Obama’s tax plan as promoted by his campaign.

Smith did acknowledge these projections were hypothetical: "...according to the Obama tax plan, and this, of course, is subject to passed by Congress...Talk about a pie in the sky." However, he then continued to assume it would be implemented and focused on the first guest, asking Openshaw: "He would do much better with Obama plan?" Openshaw replied: "You bet, he would do a lot better. But under McCain, what's interesting is, you know, he's got that $2,500 health care tax credit...for coverage, you know, you might not be able to cover both you and your son if you have to go find coverage someplace. So that's something to watch out for."

The second guest, Joe Lawless, was the one exception, a self-employed attorney who made over $250,000 a year and would benefit from McCain’s tax plan. Even so, Smith couldn’t help but again bash Joe the Plumber as he asked Lawless: "So this kind of conversation that, at least theoretically, was happening with Joe the Plumber, who's not a plumber. Would it make a difference to you whether one of these plans or the other worked to your advantage?" Openshaw did explain to Lawless how little money he would save under Obama: "Yeah, the bottom line is as an investor you're going to say good-bye to those lower dividend and capital gains tax rates, because they're going to go from15%, Joe, to 20% under Obama...Under Obama. The other thing is, your tax bracket's going up to 39%, actually a little over 39%, so you're not going to be too happy there."

For the third guest, Joanne, Openshaw declared: "The bottom line is under McCain you save a hundred dollars or so and under Obama $900. $900 is $900." On the forth guest, Joe Trentacosta, she explained: "Here's the bottom line for you. Is you would be saving $1,000 under McCain and about $1,300 under Obama so not too much of a difference there." On the fifth and final guest, Joe Enoch, Openshaw once again described the greater benefits of an Obama plan: "The bottom line between the two candidates is under McCain you save $300, under Obama, about a thousand dollars, Joe." Showing how Obama’s tax plan would work was clearly the main purpose of the segment. McCain’s tax policy was treated as a less favorable after thought.

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:01AM TEASE:

HARRY SMITH: I'll tell you, we have assembled a panel of 'average Joes.' Joe the plumber, the most famous person in America now. Well, we have five Joes here this morning, from various walks of life, and we're going to put their incomes to the test against the candidates' tax plans and see how it will affect them all. It's going to be fun, Julie.

JULIE CHEN: I'm looking forward to that.

7:10AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: How do the candidates' tax plans affect real Americans? Joining us are five 'average Joes' who all happen to be named Joe. Also with us Jennifer Openshaw, president of weseed.com. Good morning to everybody. Alright, this is going to be very personal because we're going to talk about how much money you make in an average year and we're going to compare that then to the proposed tax plans. Are you ready for this? Alright, Joe. First, how much money do you make in a year?

JOE: About $65,000.

SMITH: About $65,000. Would it make a difference to you if one tax plan or the other seemed to be really be an advantage?

JOE: Absolutely.

SMITH: Absolutely. Okay. Fire away. You know how much he makes. Let's look at the tax plans and what it would do.

JENNIFER OPENSHAW: Well, the bottom line is eventually he probably would qualify for a child care tax credit, because a child care tax credit's going up from 20% to 50% under Obama. So that's how much you pay everyday for child care. Also a $500 savers credit. So if you're saving money, your income's under $75,000 which it is.

SMITH: Right.

OPENSHAW: And then also, a $500 Making Work Pay. So Harry, this is $500 right off your taxes for middle income people who are earning less than $200,000.

SMITH: So in this particular case, according to the Obama tax plan, and this, of course, is subject to passed by Congress.

OPENSHAW: Of course, yes.

SMITH: Talk about a pie in the sky. He would do much better with Obama plan?

OPENSHAW: You bet, he would do a lot better. But under McCain, what's interesting is, you know, he's got that $2,500 health care tax credit-

SMITH: Right.

OPENSHAW: -for coverage, you know, you might not be able to cover both you and your son if you have to go find coverage someplace. So that's something to watch out for.

SMITH: Alright, let's go on to Joe lawless, how you doing, Joe?

JOE LAWLESS: Good.

SMITH: And what do you do for a living?

LAWLESS: I'm a criminal lawyer.

SMITH: And his name is lawless. Isn't that amazing. Alright, and what kind of bounty do you make?

LAWLESS: I make in excess of $250,000. It depends on the year. I'm a sole practitioner, small business owner.

SMITH: Wow, there you go. So this kind of conversation that, at least theoretically, was happening with Joe the Plumber, who's not a plumber-

LAWLESS: I'm a lawyer, by the way.

SMITH: Yeah. Okay. Would it make a difference to you whether one of these plans or the other worked to your advantage?

LAWLESS: Well it would certainly be less money out of my pocket if McCain's plan was passed, but I think it's a broader question then just the taxes.

SMITH: Okay, alright fire away.

OPENSHAW: Yeah, the bottom line is as an investor you're going to say good-bye to those lower dividend and capital gains tax rates, because they're going to go from15%, Joe, to 20% under Obama.

SMITH: Under Obama, right.

OPENSHAW: Under Obama. The other thing is, your tax bracket's going up to 39%, actually a little over 39%, so you're not going to be too happy there.

LAWLESS: No.

SMITH: Wow.

OPENSHAW: But under McCain, everything stays the same with those dividend tax rates and the favorable capital gains. The other big thing is, on the AMT side, because everybody's getting snagged by that, lots of people, McCain is does have a more specific proposal doubling it to about where it is right now for the exclusion.

SMITH: You do -- you do really well with John McCain.

LAWLESS: Yeah.

SMITH: Yeah, okay. Alright Jo, what's your situation? What do you do?

JOANNE: Well, I just got a job. I'm a management associate for the American Theater Wing, it's my first full-time job in three years.

SMITH: How exciting. What kind of money does it pay?

JOANNE: Well, you know, I'm in the lower end of the tax bracket at this point-

SMITH: Lower end of the tax bracket.

JOANNE: -but, you know, that's, you know-

SMITH: Okay.

JOANNE: We're working towards higher things-

SMITH: There you go.

JOANNE: And I'm freelancing on the side.

SMITH: There you go, okay Jennifer, how does -- how does she fare?

OPENSHAW: Joanne's big issue she is that she's trying to go back to school and you'd get a tax credit under Obama of about $4,000. About double Hope tax credit that's out there right now. You'd also get the $500 Making Work Pay and the $500 savers credit if you do.

SMITH: Yeah.

OPENSHAW: And-

SMITH: And the bottom line is?

OPENSHAW: The bottom line is under McCain you save a hundred dollars or so and under Obama $900. $900 is $900.

JOANNE: Is $900.

SMITH: Let's go to Joe Trentacosta. Joe how you doing?

JOE TRENTACOSTA: I'm good, how are you?

SMITH: What do you do?

TRENTACOSTA: Public relations.

SMITH: And what kind of money?

TRENTACOSTA: About a $100,000.

SMITH: Okay, so what's Joe's situation?

OPENSHAW: Well, the bottom line there is he gets the child care tax credit, a thousand dollars Making Work Pay credit. Eventually $4,000 per kid in a college credit. Here's the bottom line for you. Is you would be saving $1,000 under McCain and about $1,300 under Obama so not too much of a difference there.

SMITH: Pretty similar. Alright, last but not least, Joe Enoch. Joe what do you do?

JOE ENOCH: I am a reporter in Washington, D.C. but they just closed my bureau so I'm freelancing in between jobs.

SMITH: Okay, how does Joe fare with his theoretical income?

OPENSHAW: Couple of really interesting -- you're interested in either getting another job or starting a business, obviously. You get the savers credit, some of those other credits, but the interesting thing under Obama is he's offering a $10,000 exemption to withdraw money out of your 401(k) without penalty. The bottom line between the two candidates is under McCain you save $300, under Obama, about a thousand dollars, Joe.

SMITH: Anybody change their minds learning what you learned here this morning? No. Thank you all 'average Joes' for being with us this morning. Thank you very much for helping us out. Do appreciate it.

OPENSHAW: You bet.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC