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No, Joe Biden isn’t ‘Hillary Clinton’ wealthy

With Hillary Clinton repeatedly injecting her family's net worth into the 2016 conversation (not necessarily to her benefit), Vice President Biden decided to share his own status at a White House event Monday. "Don't hold against me that I don't own — that I don't own a single stock or bond," Biden said. "Don't hold it — I have no savings accounts. But I got a great pension and I got a good salary."

We thought Biden's claims warranted a closer look. And in the big picture, he's right: The wealth shared by he and his wife, Jill Biden, almost certainly pales next to that of the Clintons. But this isn't a guy who'd be just scraping by if he wasn't vice president either.

Jill Biden kisses her husband, Vice President Joe Biden. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Earlier this year, the White House released the president and vice president's financial documents — both the federal disclosure form required by law and their tax filings for 2013. The overview for the Bidens looks like this.


Biden's right: He doesn't have a savings account. But his wife does — or, at least, she did last year. Biden reported a savings account with the New Castle County Schools Employee Federal Credit Union in his wife's name worth a grand total of between zero and $1,000. She also had a checking account with the same institution, and with a valuation in the same range. (All values on the disclosure document are given in ranges.) The couple has a lot of checking accounts between them, both joint accounts and accounts specific to either of them. None was reported to have more than $15,000 in assets.

Biden's claim that he doesn't own a stock appears to be accurate, although Jill Biden has a tax-sheltered annuity that's comprised of investments in a number of funds. Jill Biden also has two certificates of deposit with the Wilmington Savings Fund Society that range in value from $50,001 to $100,000.

Jill Biden is also the more successful author of the couple. In 2013, her book "Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops" earned between $15,001 and $50,000. (Proceeds were donated to the USO.) The vice president's 2007 "Promises to Keep" brought in a negligible amount.

The Bidens' debt is centered mostly on real estate. They refinanced their mortgages in 2013, taking advantage of lower interest rates. But they still owe between $500,001 and $1,000,000 on two mortgages, plus between $250,001 and $500,000 on a home equity line of credit. That debt puts them squarely into a negative net worth for the year.


Biden's right, though, that his good salary helps. On their income tax forms, the couple reported $407,009 in taxable income for the year. Included in that is rental income of $26,400 for a property in Delaware (meaning that someone is paying Joe and Jill Biden $2,200 a month in rent). They paid $96,378 in taxes — 23.7 percent of their income. And, if you're curious, about 41.8 percent of the $230,700 salary Biden earns.

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He is based in New York City.



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