Joe Biden prides himself on his “working/middle class” status, often referring to himself as “Middle Class Joe.” A “humble fighter for workers,” his claim that he is “one of us” rests on two factors. The first is his “working class” connection with Scranton, Pennsylvania, and the second is his repeated declaration of his own poverty. “I entered as one of the poorest men in Congress, left one of the poorest men in government, in Congress and as vice president,” Biden boasted in 2019.
During the final presidential debate, Biden was keen to hammer home his “man of the people” routine, saying “where I come from in Scranton and Claymont, the people don’t live off of the stock market,” and “You folks at home, you folks living in Scranton, how well are you doing?”
Joe Biden responds to President Trump: “The idea that the stock market is booming is his only measure of what’s happening. Where I come from in Scranton and Claymont, the people don’t live off of the stock market.” https://t.co/HR9MFfjFDv #Debates2020 pic.twitter.com/ZbUcV1ISMq
— ABC News (@ABC) October 23, 2020
Let’s set aside the obvious point that even the rubiest of us rubes has a 401(k) account which depends somewhat on the stock market. Instead, let’s take a deeper look at this strategy of assumed “regular Joe” status.
The issue for politicians like Biden is that they believe that poverty itself is a virtue, and if they can present themselves as having experienced it, they will be suddenly attractive to those who are also living in poverty. Whether or not they are actually poor is immaterial. While there is something to say for the level of empathy which can be held by those who have truly experienced difficult times, especially if they have overcome severe struggles in order to succeed, the reality is that Biden does not fit this bill.
Firstly, let’s look at his “Scranton” roots. Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was born in 1942, the oldest child of four. Biden’s father, an oil businessman, was previously wealthy but experienced a significant financial downturn by the time Biden was born. After a few difficult years, including time living with Biden’s maternal grandparents, the family moved to Wilmington, Delaware, with Joe Biden Sr. later becoming a successful used car salesman. In other words, while Biden certainly witnessed financial challenges as a young child, any “roots in poverty” ended in the 1950s. That’s almost 70 years ago. From there, Biden attended Archmere Academy, a private Roman Catholic preparatory school, and graduated in 1961, attended the University of Delaware and graduated in 1965, then graduated from Syracuse University College of Law in 1968. In his late twenties, Biden was elected to a council seat in New Castle County in 1970. In 1972, Biden became the sixth-youngest senator in United States history at the age of 30, where he has been ever since.
This information is not presented in an attempt to denigrate any of Biden’s achievements, or suggest that he hasn’t experienced challenges. It is presented in order to prove a direct contradiction to Biden’s continued claim that he understands any of the challenges of “regular Joes” when he has spent the vast majority of his life suckling on the government teat. The last time Joe was in any way “regular” was more than 50 years ago.
Secondly, it’s important to debunk the flawed notion that a poor handling of one’s finances is synonymous with poverty, and that subsequent assumed membership to this imaginary class of poverty is evidence of deep-rooted morality. Until Biden became a multi-millionaire in recent years, he proudly boasted that he was one of the poorest men in government. Is “poorest” always the appropriate word?
When people use the word “poor,” they usually mean someone with little money or few assets. However, there is an obvious difference between someone who is poor due to circumstances beyond their control (such as poor health, recession, or unemployment) and someone who is “poor” because they can’t manage the ample resources the have.
As we have already stated, Biden has been a U.S. Senator since 1972. On joining the Senate, Biden’s salary was $42,500 per annum, which amounts to over $250,000 when adjusted for inflation. According to Politifact, Biden’s estimated net worth was -$47,494 in 2005, -$12,492 in 2006, and -$52,493 in 2007. This means that in the years immediately preceding his role as Vice President (for which his annual salary rose to $230,700) Biden had a negative net worth after holding a job which paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars for over 30 years.
What does this tell us about Biden’s “poverty,” beyond the fact that the man is apparently appalling when it comes to managing his finances? Is a man who has earned as much as Biden before becoming Vice President (let alone a man who became a millionaire soon after) still ascribed “virtue” and “empathy” because his parents were briefly poor when he was a child and because he squandered his sizeable income as an adult? Should he be celebrated as “one of us” when he can’t make ends meet with large amounts of our money? Finally, how can we trust this man — whose single area of expertise is marketing his financial ineptitude as a sign of morality — to handle the country’s credit card?
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.