Friday, September 12, 2008

Biden Not a Big Charitable Donor

Paul Caron at TaxProf Blog notes that Joe Biden only gave 0.06% to 0.31% of their income charitable donations, which is pretty meager. Caron writes:
It is jarring that a couple earning over $200,000 per year would give as little as $2 per week to charity. This giving compares very unfavorably to John McCain, whose tax returns show that he gave 27.3% - 28.6% of his income to charity in 2006-2007. During the same period, the Obamas' tax returns show that they gave 5.8% - 6.1% of their income to charity.

Perhaps the Obama-Biden campaign needs a new slogan: "Change You Can Believe In (As Long As Someone Else Pays For It)"

Update: Independent Sector reports that 89% of American households contribute to charity, with an average contribution of $1,620 -- 3.1% of income. (links in original omitted)
But is it meager?

Well compared to the rest of America yes, but here is a thought to think about, what if Biden simply doesn't do enough to track his charitable giving? I know there are times when my family has given to charity, either in goods or money, but can't recall when or how much. It doesn't mean we aren't giving, it simply means we are claiming it on our taxes. Perhaps Biden isn't claiming all of his on his taxes.

Ann Althouse sees no hypocrisy which Caron sort of hints at, but I do to a certain extent. Althouse writes:
Is this out of whack with political ideology? I say no! Conservatives believe private charity should bear more of the burdens of caring for the unfortunate and other good works. Liberals want to see government do more, and we're expected to pay taxes to pay for it.
A commenter to Althouse's post beat me to the punch. It is not hypocritical to not give to charity seeing that Biden pays a not insubstantial amount in taxes every year, much more than the median income in this country. However, McCain paid more in taxes than Biden and made significantly more charitable contributions. The argument is not about taxes or about whether one believes the tax burden is too great or not too great.

The argument is more about whether one is charitable or not. The common theme is that those with more to give should give more (in fact that is a tenent of Democratic taxation policy), but McCain not only gives more at the behest of his government (i.e. being in the highest tax bracket) but also gives more on his own initiative.

I am not claiming that McCain is a better man because he gives more to charity, or that Biden is a lesser leader because he does not give as much to charity. I suppose my larger point really is, does this matter?

Probably not.

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