Saturday, October 04, 2008

Where did Joe Biden's Money Go?

Sarah and Todd Palin released their 2006 and 2007 tax returns yesterday, which the [sarcasm] unbiased Associated Press [/sarcasm] took to mean that they were hiding something because they released them on a Friday.

A few weeks ago Joe and Jill Biden released their tax records. Also on a Friday, but shockingly, no accusation of them trying to hide something. But media bias isn't where I'm trying to go with this post.

Today I took a fresh look at the Bidens' tax records and came out wondering the following: Where did Joe Biden's money go?

In a press release from about a year ago, Biden takes pride in having one of the lowest net worths in the US Senate:

In a 2005 ranking of the 100 senators for wealth, [Biden] was 99th. In other words, unlike most other presidential contenders, he isn't a millionaire.

"He's not even close," said David Wilhelm, who was Biden's campaign manager during his first run for the presidency in 1987 and is now a senior adviser to Biden.

Biden comes across as "a middle-class guy with middle-class aspirations, sometimes middle-class resentments," Wilhelm said.

In fact, Open Secrets puts Biden's net worth between about negative $300,000 and a positive $275,000. They go ahead and sort of average that down to a net worth of approximately $0.

Here is where I'm left scratching my head. Biden has been a Senator since 1973. Senators make a nice chunk of change - a lot more than the middle class on main street do (to use the political parlance of our times). The Bidens' tax returns released a few week ago go back just 10 years but show that in that 10 years, the Bidens have pulled in approximately $2.5 million.

Let's put $2.5 million in perspective. The Census Bureau pegs median income just north of $50,000. If you reasonably assume the median American household only has income while working, and that your average worker works about 50 years (say ages 20 to 70), a lifetime of household income comes to ... $2.5 million.

So in 10 years, the Bidens made as much money as the median American household makes in their lifetime. Putting it another way, the Bidens make five times more than the median American household per year.

But, curiously, despite making a rather substantial amount of money, the Bidens have no net worth. How does that happen?

I don't want a vice president making decisions about our economy when he apparently can't even keep his household finances in order.

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