Joe Biden used to joke about
being the poorest member of Congress.
Don’t hold it against me that I
don’t own a single stock or bond.
Now he’s among the richest
Democrats running for president.
Life after the vice
presidency fattened Biden’s wallet.
He and his wife Jill made more
than $15 million in 2017 and 2018
That’s easily the most out of
the 2020 Democratic primary candidates
who have released their taxes.
And Biden’s sudden explosion of wealth
doesn’t quite square with the
image he’s pitched to
Americans for years.
All my time in public life
since I’ve gotten involved, I’ve been
referred to as middle class Joe.
It’s not always meant
as a compliment.
Let me say this simply clearly, and
I mean this, the country wasn’t
built by Wall Street bankers,
CEOs and hedge fund managers.
It was built by you.
It was built by the
great American middle class.
Biden may once have been
part of that middle class.
He’s definitely not anymore.
2016 was Biden’s last year as an
elected official after more than four
decades. The Bidens
made about $400,000.
That’s more than six times
the US median income.
But Biden really started making money
after he left the Obama
administration in 2017.
The couple raked in
more than $11 million.
They made another $4.6 million
They now say they have between $2.2
million and $8 million in assets.
They paid about a third of
their adjusted gross income in federal
income taxes in 2017.
Last year they paid about $1.5
million in taxes.
So where did all
that money come from?
Mostly books and speaking fees.
The Bidens have two S-Corporations that
get paid for their book deals
and speaking gigs.
Those 2017 Trump tax cuts that are
a punching bag for Biden and his
They gave a 20 percent tax break
to owners of businesses like the
The S-Corps made about $10
million combined in 2017.
They took in about $3.2
million last year.
Joe Biden’s book ‘Promise me Dad’
came out in November 2017.
It followed the 2015 death
of his son Beau.
Jill Biden’s book ‘Where the Light
Enters’ was released in May 2019.
Joe Biden promoted his book with
a tour in 2017 and 2018.
He made tens of thousands of
dollars for just about every stop.
He raked in as much
as $106,000 for one stop.
And fees for nearly 20
paid speeches, mostly at universities,
in those two years ranged
from $66,000 to $190,000.
The Bidens seem to be
enjoying their new wealth.
They’re renting a lavish 12,000
square foot house in Virginia.
They also bought a $2.7
million beach house in Delaware since
Joe Biden left the Obama
administration. Their charitable giving also
rose along with their
income. The Bidens put about $275,000
or six percent of their
adjusted gross income toward
charities last year.
In 2017 they gave more than $1
million to charity, about 9 percent of
That was up from 1.5
percent in 2016.
But Biden’s riches could cause
some headaches for him.
While he has led just about every
national and state polls since he
jumped into the race, his
lead has started to shrink.
The Democratic contenders have broadly
focused on helping workers and
reining in companies
and the wealthy.
Biden has been less aggressive toward
business than most of his
rivals. And he is already facing heat
for being too cozy with the rich
Recently in remarks to a group of
wealthy donors, as you were speaking
about the problem of income inequality
in this country, you said
we shouldn’t “demonize the rich.”
You said nobody has to be punished.
No one’s standard of
living would change.
Nothing would fundamentally change.
What did you mean by that?
What I meant by that is, look,
Donald Trump thinks Wall
Street built America.
Ordinary middle class
Americans built America.
We reached out to the Biden
campaign about whether Biden’s riches
clash with his campaign message.
A spokesman said fighting for working
families has been the defining
cause of Joe Biden’s life.
He added that Biden is running
to restore the American middle class
with everybody in on
the deal this time.
It remains to be seen whether Biden
still tries to craft an image
around middle class Joe as
he continues his campaign.
Especially if he wins the
Democratic nomination and takes on
President Trump in 2020.
The president is a self professed
billionaire who hasn’t released his
He broke with decades of precedent
in refusing to release them.
Ten years of Trump tax returns from
the 1980s and 1990s, obtained by
the New York Times, show
massive losses for the president’s
businesses. He didn’t pay federal income
taxes in eight of those 10
years. And since Trump was first
running for President, Biden has
cast him as out of
touch with everyday Americans.