Monday, July 15, 2019

'Middle Class Joe' Is Actually Multi-Millionaire Joe

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who often pitches himself as “Middle Class Joe” on the campaign trail, is a multi-millionaire, according to his most recent tax returns.

On Tuesday, Biden’s presidential campaign released three years worth of tax filings showing the Democrat frontrunner and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, earned more than $15.6 million since leaving the White House. The majority of the couple’s income came from a book deal — estimated to be worth $8 million — and lucrative speaking engagements.

In 2017, Biden’s first year out of elective office since 1973, the couple earned more than $11 million. This was exponentially more than the $396,552 both reported making in 2016. The following year, the couple’s annual income decreased slightly to $4. 58 million.

Biden’s political standing appears to be the reason for the couple’s new found wealth. The returns show that Biden earned $9.49 million in 2017 through CelticCapri Corp., a shell company named after the couple’s Secret Service code names.

CelticCapri, which was incorporated in Delaware only days after Biden left office, serves as the main vehicle for the former vice president’s public engagements. In 2018, Biden was paid $2.73 million through the company for appearances and speeches all across the country. In total, over the two year period, Biden made 49 speeches with some generating honorariums upwards of $249,000.

Not to be outdone, Jill Biden also cashed in on her public persona. The former second lady delivered 18 speeches between 2017 and 2018, earning on average $36,000 per event. Giacoppa Corp., the former second lady’s shell company named after her family’s original last name, reported paying her more than $557,00 in 2017 and $506,000 in 2018 for such engagements.

Rounding out the couple’s income was Biden’s pension from the U.S. Senate and the vice presidency which generated $241,00 in 2017 and more than $190,000 in 2018. Biden also earned a six figure salary from the University of Pennsylvania. The former vice president leads the university’s Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, D.C., a position that paid more than $371,000 in 2017 and more than $405,000 in 2018.

The couple’s income for both 2017 and 2018 put them squarely within the top one one percent of economic earners, a threshold set at $480,930 by the IRS. In fact, the former vice president’s income was the largest of any of his fellow 2020 Democrats.

Biden’s ascension into the economic elite comes relatively late in life. For the majority of his political career, Biden was one of the poorest members of Congress. The couple’s income barely edged above $300,000 until Biden’s first year in the vice president’s office, when he became eligible to to receive social security and his governmental pension.

Despite waiting so long to break into the one percent, the Bidens appear to have comfortably transitioned into their new lifestyle. Last month, it was disclosed the couple now resides in a 11,750 square foot Georgian-style mansion overlooking the Potomac River in McLean, Virginia. Biden rents the house, which once belonged to the late-Secretary of State Alexander Haig, even though he owns two properties within driving distance in his home state of Delaware. One of those is a recently purchased $2.7 million vacation house on the Atlantic Ocean.

Some signs of the couple’s prior lifestyle, however, appear to have remained in tact. The Washington Postreported on Tuesday, Biden’s charitable giving has only slightly increased. According to the most recent tax returns released, Biden gave 1.4 percent of his income to charity in 2016. The following year, when the couple reported making 11 million, they donated just around 9.2 percent to charity. The percentage fell significantly in 2018 to six percent, even though the couple earned more than $4.58 million.

Since signaling his intention to run for president, Biden has sought to regain some of the working-class appeal that was exhibited in his early career.

“I know I’m called Middle-Class Joe. It’s not meant to be a compliment. It means I’m not sophisticated. But I know what made this country what it is: ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” the former vice president said last year.

Haris Alic

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