Biden’s 0.69% compassion

posted at 12:14 pm on April 16, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday, Barack Obama and Joe Biden released their tax returns for 2008.  While Barack Obama donated a respectable 6.5% of his adjusted gross income to charity, totaling over $170,000, Joe Biden continued his parsimonious tradition.  Biden donated a mere $1885 to charity on an AGI of almost $270,000, or about 0.69%:

The White House on Wednesday also released the tax return for Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill. They reported an adjusted gross income of $269,256 and paid $46,952 in federal income taxes.

The Bidens also reported donating $1,885 to charity, less than 1 percent of their earnings. In a press release, the White House said the Bidens have made additional donations to charity not listed on the returns.

“The charitable donations claimed by the Bidens on their tax returns are not the sum of their annual contributions to charity,” it said. “They donate to their church, and they contribute to their favorite causes with their time as well as their checkbooks.”

Church donations are just as tax deductible, and just as trackable, as any other kind of charitable donation.  Also, many of us who donate money also donate time and effort, as well as untrackable cash, to charities and good works.  For instance, the First Mate and I wound up declaring almost twice what the Bidens did while serving on Twin Cities Marriage Encounter’s board, volunteering for Feed My Starving Children, and other efforts, at a much lower AGI than the Bidens enjoyed.  For Catholics, that’s really not much to brag about; we’re supposed to be called to those efforts.

Biden has a long track record of miserliness.  When Obama picked him as a running mate, Biden eventually released his tax returns from the previous decade — and showed less than $3700 in charitable donations for the entire period.  Sarah Palin, by contrast, had donated that much in 2007, and more in 2006, on lower income.  Biden actually improved in 2008 by donating almost exactly half of what he had for the previous decade put together.

Why is this important?  Biden scolds people for not caring enough to “pitch in” and help out through heavier taxation.  “Catholic social doctrine,” Biden instructed, “as I was taught it is, you take care of people who need the help the most.”  While he waggles his fingers at others, Biden’s been pinching pennies in Delaware.  What’s worse is that he has sought to replace charity with government, perhaps as an excuse for his own parsimony.

When politicians squawk about pitching in and helping out as an excuse for sucking more resources into the federal government and describe paying taxes as a religious experience, they would have more credibility if they had a track record of actually helping the poor and needy themselves personally.  0.69% should be an embarrassment; it’s certainly a revelation about the devotion to charity for this particular liberal.

Update: I mistakenly wrote “higher” for “lower” income for Sarah and Todd Palin. I’ve fixed it.


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What a pompous fool, Biden is. I’m pretty sure Barry picked him because he knows how difficult it would be for any of us to wish him into somehow taking Barry’s place.

anniekc on April 16, 2009 at 1:46 PM

Liberals believe in being compassionate with other people’s money (OPM), not their own.

MarkTheGreat on April 16, 2009 at 12:19 PM

We have a winner!

rightside on April 16, 2009 at 1:47 PM

Biden donated a mere $1885 to charity on an AGI of almost $270,000, or about 0.69%:

I made more than twice what Oh’Biden did in contributions on about 120K a year.

Can I be the Vice-VP?

hawkdriver on April 16, 2009 at 1:52 PM

EricPWJohnson on April 16, 2009 at 1:20 PM
DrW on April 16, 2009 at 1:28 PM

Completely disagree. So long as he sees fit to lecture us on our charitable donations, what he gives is completely relevant.

If he drops the act, then you’ll be correct.

Esthier on April 16, 2009 at 1:52 PM

I give 10% minimum every year to my church as well as all the other money I give to the different fund raisers in the community and kids raising money for camp, etc. You’d think the ones who are so concerned about the downtrodden would be willing to part with a little of the cash they’ve stolen from the taxpayers in the first place. Liberals are all for giving to the poor, as long as it’s someone else’s money!!!!!!!!!!!

flytier on April 16, 2009 at 1:53 PM

Contrast Biden and my earlier post about Obama’s charity with this: In 1991, George W. Bush, the future president, then a private citizen, reportedly had income of $179,591, and charitable contributions of $28,236. In 1992, Bush reported income of $212,313, and contributions of $31,914. In 1993, Bush reported income of $610,772, and contributions of $31,292.

So Bush typically gave 15% of his income, at worst 5%. Obama, with his self-worshipping book deals and his wife’s $317,000 patronage cush job, gave between 0.4% and 6.1%.
Once again, the gap between self-righteous liberal mythology and actual reality is staggering.

Crusty on April 16, 2009 at 1:58 PM

O/T
Did Geitner pay his taxes yesterday?
Just wondering……

elderberry on April 16, 2009 at 1:59 PM

Can someone who knows how to get the information, show us what Bush and Cheney gave while in office, and right before being in the WH. Also, please show us Clinton and Gore in the WH and right before the WH.

I would be curious to see what their patterns of giving look like.

texasconserv on April 16, 2009 at 2:02 PM

right you are, so go after him on the issues – leave his personal finances alone – just like McCains house or his wife’s money – non of our business
EricPWJohnson on April 16, 2009 at 1:32 PM

Not even close.
You obviously did not heed what I said.
We have every right to take Joe to task for this $hit.
It is all our business when these people run for office bcs they are going to be running OUR business if they get elected.
I have every right to know such things about politicians like:
are they deviants?
are they felons?
how much $$ do they make?
how much do they give to charity?
where do they get their $$ from?
are they vegetarians?
do they own & use guns?
are they meat eaters?
do they have kids?
etc………….
It’s ALL my business bcs someday, they’re gonna make MY business THEIR business.
Nuff said.

Badger40 on April 16, 2009 at 2:03 PM

The point is that the current administration’s economic policies have already negatively impacted charitable giving in this country. If he wants to model us after Europe, then get ready for your colleges and hospitals and museums and social service agencies to close. Americans give generously; Europeans do not. I’m sure that difference is largely due to the nanny state mentality and excessive taxes in Europe.

Y-not on April 16, 2009 at 2:08 PM

I gave considerably more than him, and I made about 20% what he did last year.
And weren’t the lefties pissing all over Cheney because of what he gave?

Vice President Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney, said they contributed $166,547 to charity in 2007, which represented 5.5 percent of their total income of $3.05-million.

RWLA on April 16, 2009 at 2:28 PM

It’s time to be patriotic, Joe. Time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut.

dwford on April 16, 2009 at 2:35 PM

It’s time to be patriotic, Joe. Time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut.

dwford on April 16, 2009 at 2:35 PM

Tell that to his boss, who paid 3% of his earnings in taxes. For him, Tax Day was on January 11. I am, by my own calculations, about 8x more patriotic than Obama.

unclesmrgol on April 16, 2009 at 2:40 PM

He means well though. That counts.

Akzed on April 16, 2009 at 12:25 PM

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

unclesmrgol on April 16, 2009 at 2:43 PM

Old hair plug Joe. Obama picked Joe because he is an idiot that no sound minded person would want as POTUS. He is like Obama’s insurance policy.

Joe needs to get out of government.

saiga on April 16, 2009 at 3:14 PM

Did Geitner pay his taxes yesterday?
Just wondering……

Why should he? He’s got the job now, & he now knows that he won’t have any consequences for not paying.

jgapinoy on April 16, 2009 at 4:19 PM

He means well though. That counts.

Akzed on April 16, 2009 at 12:25 PM

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

unclesmrgol on April 16, 2009 at 2:43 PM

I wouldn’t give him the credit for meaning well. He’s a habitual liar, a braggart, a plagiarist, & he’s mean-spirited. And here we learn he’s stingy & a hypocrite. I think he “means” to have gov’t bigger to further his own lust for power.

jgapinoy on April 16, 2009 at 4:22 PM

Those of us who tithe on much lower incomes know how niggardly (yes, I intended to use that word) this type of “giving” truly is.

College Prof on April 16, 2009 at 4:44 PM

If Biden is claiming that he makes many charitable contributions that he doesn’t use for tax benefits, I suppose that’s admirable. However, as a public figure, one of the things that he can do is set an example for others. He doesn’t need to run to the nightly news and say, “Hey, look at all the charity I do!!!!” but, he could declare it on his taxes so that it’s visible. If he feels weird about benefiting from his charity through tax deductions, he can certainly write a check to the gov that includes the deduction amount.

The way it sits now, he just looks like a miser….which is fine, it’s his money, but, I take issue with people that lecture others about charity but don’t seem to have any themselves.

JadeNYU on April 16, 2009 at 4:47 PM

If Biden is claiming that he makes many charitable contributions that he doesn’t use for tax benefits, I suppose that’s admirable.
JadeNYU on April 16, 2009 at 4:47 PM

Based on the explanation given, I assume he’s tossing a couple of bucks in the collection basket on occasional Sundays or donations of old clothes to Goodwill or purchasing a charity raffle ticket. Small potatoes that many wouldn’t bother to itemize. (I have to say, I’m aghast that people are reporting board service on their taxes, but that’s a separate issue.)

If it is a significant sum, then he’s kind of a dolt for not reporting his charitable deductions. Certainly not the kind of fiscal acumen many of us would like to see in a VP.

Y-not on April 16, 2009 at 5:08 PM

Biden must have spent all his money on hair plugs and teeth whitening treatments. If you go back and look at John Kerry’s tax returns I think he was almost as bad as Biden, which looks even worse when you consider how much money he has.

A mighty thanks to all of you who are generous with your charitable contributions. Let’s work at keeping our contributions tax deductible.

Snidely Whiplash on April 16, 2009 at 8:18 PM

I am a conservative, not a Holy roller, and I don’t care what the President and the VP do with their money. Why is this a story at all?

BTW, the IRS has changed the rules on cash contributions over $250. You must have a canceled check or acknowledgment from the charity. Most churches don’t keep a tally on second collections, which are usually given in the form of cash.

budorob on April 17, 2009 at 10:46 AM

How “patriotic” was he?

Dandapani on April 19, 2009 at 5:37 PM

obama donations;

a respectable 6.5%

Are you joking? over five million bucks, free transportation and free everything else (on our dime) and he donates 6 percent?
While raising taxes and spending more than people can understand?????
TRILLIONS is a number brought to our daily lexicon because of obama yet 6 percent? That’s insulting to the rest of us, totus.

I hope you were joking Ed, you’re much much brighter than that.

shooter on April 15, 2010 at 10:42 PM

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