MintPress News | November 13, 2020
After triumphing in a bitterly contested presidential election, all eyes are on President-Elect Joe Biden and who he will choose to run his new administration. For much of October, media spent their time dissecting the news that, despite living a lavish billionaire lifestyle, Donald Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017. In contrast, little was made of Biden’s self-published tax documents. This is surprising because the returns show that he is rich. Filthy rich.
The 77-year-old Delawarean likes to paint himself as a man of modest means. “I entered as one of the poorest men in Congress, left one of the poorest men in government — in Congress and as vice-president,” Biden said during the Democratic presidential nomination process. And while that was technically true, since leaving the White House, he and his wife Jill have amassed a fortune of more than $16.7 million. For comparison, the median net worth of U.S. households is $97,300. His tax returns show that he received over $900,000 from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018 and 2019. “When I left the United States Senate, I became a professor,” at the Ivy League institution, he told the country in March. Yet records show he has not taught even a single class during his time there.
Speaking engagements make up the majority of his earnings, where he is often paid princely sums for minutes’ work. For example, his tax returns show that he was paid over $134,000 for a talk in Fort Lauderdale, FL in January 2019. In this sense, he is following in the footsteps of the likes of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush, who command enormous sums for public appearances — a practice often condemned as little more than payoffs for “good behavior” while in office.
The Bidens’ Total Earnings: 1998–2019
Source | Forbes
Biden is no stranger to the rich and powerful. He kicked off his presidential campaign last year with a dinner for ultra-rich patrons at a Manhattan hotel, insisting that “nothing would fundamentally change” if he were elected, reassuring them that he would never demonize the rich and that they were not at fault for growing inequality. “I need you very badly,” he concluded.
Building Back Better?
The former vice-president’s team is also looking to be made up of extremely wealthy individuals as well. His transition task squad has been, in his website’s words, crafted to ensure they “reflect the values and priorities of the incoming administration,” and includes executives from Lyft, Amazon, Capital One, Uber, Visa, and JP Morgan.
One name being strongly floated for a cabinet position is former mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel, a move being met with vocal opposition from the left. Emanuel’s first tour of duty in the White House came under President Bill Clinton, where he was one of the key architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a deal that decimated manufacturing in the Midwest, hobbled union power, and sent well paying blue-collar jobs to Mexico. In 2016, Trump constantly brought up NAFTA as a weapon to attack Hillary Clinton, winning him votes (and states) across the region. Emanuel also pushed through welfare “reform” bills that sharply reduced benefits for the poor and worked with Biden on the now-infamous 1994 Crime Bill, a key accelerator of mass incarceration. He then left politics to pursue a lucrative career in finance — something that quickly netted him a reported $16 million fortune — before returning and becoming President Obama’s advisor and enforcer.