HOLLAND, Ohio (Reuters) - “Joe the Plumber,” who came to symbolize U.S. taxpayer frustration during last year’s election, sounds even angrier now at what he sees as excessive government spending on the economy and healthcare reform.
“The politicians in Washington are spending trillions of dollars of our money. When are Americans going to stand up and say enough is enough?” said Joe Wurzelbacher, 35, in an interview on Friday at his modest suburban Ohio home.
“Instead of spending more of our money, they should cut back like ordinary Americans are having to. Why do they think they can spend their way out of this mess?” said Wurzelbacher, referring to the $787 billion government stimulus bill.
Wurzelbacher has managed to prolong his 15 minutes of fame since he posed some tough questions of presidential candidate Barack Obama during an Ohio campaign stop in August 2008.
Obama’s reply: “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” prompted Obama’s Republican rival, Senator John McCain, to label the Democrat a socialist and catapulted Wurzelbacher into the media spotlight.
Reporters later learned that Wurzelbacher did not have a plumbing license, was behind on his taxes, had a real first name of Sam, and was unmarried with a teenage son.
At first Wurzelbacher courted the attention, then said it was draining and he wanted to get back to plumbing.
Wurzelbacher said he had voted for McCain but without enthusiasm. “In the end, I had to choose the lesser of two evils.
“Does the Republican Party represent anything I stand for right now? Absolutely not,” he said. “Right now the Republican Party doesn’t even know what it stands for.”
Wurzelbacher said he now attends “tea parties” — held by Conservative groups to protest against economic policies they dislike — and does not have time to work as a plumber.
As for President Obama, Wurzelbacher said: “Obama likes to quote great men but will never be a great man himself. I can’t stand it when our leader goes around apologizing for who we are.”
He urged a grass-roots effort to hold leaders accountable. “Our ancestors picked up guns and knives for their freedom. All I’m asking people to do is pick up a book, get involved or start asking questions,” he said.
Writing by Andrew Stern; editing by Chris Wilson