Tuesday 16 July 2019

'Ordinary' Biden sees wealth soar as he bids for power

In the firing line: Democrat candidate Joe Biden. Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters
In the firing line: Democrat candidate Joe Biden. Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters

Matt Viser

Joe Biden has reported earning $15.6m (€13.8m) in family income over the past two years, making him the highest earner among the top competitors for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Most of the former vice president's income - which totalled $11m (€9.8m) in 2017 and $4.6m (€4m) in 2018 - came from book payments and speaking fees according to tax returns and financial disclosure forms required of politicians seeking federal office.

All told, the Bidens made nearly five times more in the past two years than the next-highest earner, Kamala Harris, who with her husband earned $3.3m (€2.9m). Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, each took in about $1.7m (€1.5m) in family income.

The amount of wealth - with Mr Biden at the top - comes amid a campaign that features a strong current of economic populism, with Mr Sanders and Ms Warren making a case that the US economy is rigged in favour of the rich.

Wealth

The tax returns and financial disclosures Mr Biden released provided the first picture of the wealth he has accumulated since leaving a 44-year career in government.

A regular theme of his presidential campaign has been the fact he was often the poorest member of the US Senate. For at least a decade, Mr Biden repeatedly has described himself as "Middle Class Joe".

But since leaving office, he has benefited from an explosion of wealth. He gave 49 speeches with fees as high as $234,000 (€208,000).

Mr Biden was also a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was paid $371,159 in 2017 and $405,368 in 2018. Jill, his wife, delivered 18 speeches for which she earned more than $700,000.

Irish Independent

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