Despite the allure of sure wealth with fancy clothes and nice digs, Vice-President Joe Biden is “dead broke,” according to New York News and Politics on Monday. In an effort to inform Americans that he is “just average Joe,” the Vice-President told his audience at the White House Working Family Summit that he is “the poorest man in Congress” despite making a lot of money as Vice-President. (As Vice-President, Biden presides over the Senate which is the upper house of Congress). Biden then went on to explain that he does not have a savings account and has no bonds either.
Despite Biden’s claim that he does not have a savings account, last year’s tax records indicated that he did have a relatively modest savings account of around $15,000, which pales in comparison to that of most members of Congress in their advanced years after a lifelong political career. When one factors in Biden’s mortgage on his home, it becomes readily apparent that at least on paper, the Vice-President owes more than he owns. However, this is true for most Americans who are burdened with mortgages that far outweigh the amount of money that they have in savings and/or stocks and bonds. (The average American is over $200,000 in debt with savings of less than $500). It is not, however, true for most current or former members of Congress who have spent twenty or more years in office.
The base salary for a Member of Congress is: $174,000. The Vice-President’s salary is: $230,700. A retired member of Congress receives $174,000 for life, and the Vice-President retires at a pension commensurate with that of government employees; however, in Biden’s case, he will receive $174,000 as a former Member of Congress, plus whatever he is paid as a former government employee.
There are two perks that the Vice-President enjoys that regular members of Congress do not have. 1) The Vice-President does not have to maintain two residences as do members of Congress (one in Washington and one in the Congressional district that they represent). 2) The Vice-President is provided a free home at the United States Naval Observatory, called Admiralty House. The Vice-President then is able to rent out his/her home and derive rent money in addition to the free residence.
With all of these perks and the high salary, it is difficult to fathom how Biden could be in such financial straits after a lifetime in Congress and over five and a half years as Vice-President. The “high end” lifestyle in the Beltway (Washington, D.C) and the need to remain vibrant in the fast track comes to mind: expensive dinner parties, receptions, expensive clothes, jewelry, etc..
In his speech before the summit on Monday, Biden was contented with his “high salary” and “great pension,” despite his debts and lack of savings:
“Don’t hold it against me that I don’t own a single stock or bond. I have no savings account, but I got a great pension and a nice salary.”