Did You Know?

When it comes to giving, perhaps the nation's political power brokers could take a lesson from their constituents. When now-Vice President Joe Biden handed his tax returns over for public consumption during the election of 2008, it was revealed Biden and his wife Jill, a community college instructor, had donated an average of just $369 a year to charity in the decade prior to the election. That in spite of reported earnings well in excess of $300,000 in 2007, when the Bidens reportedly made just $995 in charitable donations. To put that into perspective, in a study conducted by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, more than two-thirds of U.S. households reported giving to charity in 2004, with average contributions of $2,047, an amount that equates to nearly six times the Bidens' average annual donations. But Biden is not alone among Vice Presidents who are apparently not fond of charitable donations. While campaigning for Vice President in 2000, eventual Vice President Dick Cheney also handed over his tax records, which revealed Cheney and his family had donated just $209,832 between 1989 and 1999, a period in which Cheney earned well over $20 million. Similarly, in 1998 then-Vice President Al Gore earned similar ire when his 1997 return showed only $353 in donations to charity. In addition to learning from their constituents, perhaps Biden and his Vice Presidential cohorts could also learn a lesson from their bosses. When now-President Barack Obama released his tax returns early in 2008, the return showed charitable donations of more than $240,000, which equated to roughly 5.7 percent of the Obamas' total income.
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