With the release of both President Obama’s and Vice President Biden’s 2009 tax returns last week comes some revealing information. Though the Obama’s reported that less than 6 percent of their $5.5 million income went to charity, the most interesting tidbit is that the Bidens gave less than 2 percent of their $333,000 income to charity. Even the standard church tithe — considered a charitable donation — is supposed to be 10 percent.
Far be it from me to criticize anyone for the amount of their charitable donations. Under normal circumstances, a person’s private giving wouldn’t be a point of criticism; it is, after all, a matter of personal conscience. However, these low levels of charitable donations, particularly on the part of the Bidens, stand out because of earlier statements from Obama and Biden asserting that we need to “spread the wealth around” and that paying more taxes was the “patriotic” thing to do.
Nice to know they practice what they preach.
Similarly, in 2004 I wrote a column on a study of charitable donations that found that the 25 states with residents giving the highest percentage of their income to charity were all “red” states — voting for George W. Bush in the presidential election that year. All 19 “blue” states were in the bottom 25. Despite the rhetoric from liberals/progressives about “giving back” and the need for income redistribution, it appears they don’t practice it as often in their private lives.
To be fair, maybe this is not necessarily an example of hypocrisy. Perhaps one reason that the blue states give less is that they often pay higher taxes per capita, leaving them with less income to spend on charitable donations. Also, in Obama and Biden’s cases, they have higher tax rates under our “progressive” income tax system because they make more. Either way, the effect of such higher taxation (read: forced charity) is damaging to voluntary giving.
As I noted in another column on the subject of charity:
Government should back off when it comes to charity work. Whether regulating it or running it, government always seems to hinder it.
* The preceding was originally posted on the Young Americans for Liberty blog.