Vice President Joe Biden highlighted his meager finances—by Washington standards—Monday at the inaugural White House Summit on Working Families, but cast himself as "really fortunate" regardless.
Highlighting the need to modernize family leave policies, Biden argued that he was well off on account of generous family leave and benefit policies afforded to or taken by him as a lawmaker, but said such benefits must be expanded to all Americans.
"I can speak a little bit from my own experience," Biden said early in his remarks. "Look at Biden, man. He's got a mildly expensive suit on. He's Vice President of the United States of America, he makes—notwithstanding that he's listed as the poorest man in Congress—he still makes a lot of money as Vice President of the United States. And I do by the way. And I do. Don't hold it against me that I don't own a single stock or bond. Don't hold it—I have no savings account. But I've got a great pension and I've got a good salary. For real. For real. Sometimes we talk about this stuff about struggle. My struggle, my god, compared to where I grew up and the way people are trying to go through things. but here's the point I want to make. I've been really, really fortunate."
Biden's point is well taken. The former Delaware Senator and his wife are worth between -$1,323,970 and $162,996 according to his 2013 financial disclosure released in May. But Biden was stretching the truth slightly. His financial disclosure shows he does have a savings account valued between $1,001 and $15,000, and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, invests in mutual funds that own in stocks and bonds. Biden's 2014 salary is $233,000—more than four times the median household income.
In a possible, yet unlikely, 2016 contrast, Biden's approach to talking about his wealth differs substantially from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has made repeated missteps when discussing her vastly-larger fortune.
Clinton claimed in an interview earlier this month to have been "dead broke" upon leaving the White House, and in an interview with The Guardian published this weekend, Clinton implied she and her husband were not among the "truly well off," despite millions in the bank and well over $100 million collected in speaking fees alone over the past decade.
"But they don't see me as part of the problem because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we've done it through dint of hard work," Clinton said.