Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden's Friday release of his tax returns embarrassingly revealed, according to a Bloomberg item in Saturday's Boston Globe, that Biden and his wife have, over the past ten years, donated a piddling “two-tenths of 1 percent” of their income to charities, but Saturday's Washington Post article didn't mention that and instead allocated six of ten paragraphs to how “progressive groups...want to determine whether [Sarah] Palin skirted tax obligations.” (In the middle of a paragraph deep into its story, Saturday's New York Times reported the mere “$995 in gifts to charities” by the Bidens in 2007, but made no further note of it.)
In the Post article, “Biden Releases His Tax Returns,” reporters Lyndsey Layton and Matthew Mosk pointed out how Biden is the “poorest” U.S. Senator, and then pivoted to Palin:
The disclosure came as Democrats tried to put increasing pressure on the Republican vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, to release her returns. Progressive groups said they want to determine whether Palin skirted tax obligations on about $17,000 in per diem payments she received as part of an arrangement that paid her extra for the nights she stayed in her home in Wasilla instead of the governor's mansion in Juneau, 600 miles away....
The tenth and last paragraph of the Post story, one I counted as one of the four of the ten about Biden, related Biden back to Palin:
Biden also prefers to sleep in his own bed at night. When the Senate is in session, Biden famously commutes by train between Washington and Delaware. But members of Congress do not receive a per diem.
The Post gave those “progressive groups” their hook with a very overplayed Tuesday, September 9 front page article, “Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home: Taxpayers Also Funded Family's Travel.” In a Saturday Post “Free for All” section letter (not online), Matthew Raehl of Manassas, Virginia properly mocked the story:
I'd like to propose some alternatives to your sensationalistic headline, “Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home”:
“Palin Saves Alaska Tens of Thousands”
“Palin Flies Coach”
“Palin Claimed Less Per Diem than Allowed”
The September 13 Globe story, “Bidens report giving fraction of income to charity,” reported:
Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, the Democratic nominee for Vice President, and his wife reported giving a fraction of 1 percent of their income to charity during the past decade, below the national average, tax records show....
Biden and his wife, Jill, earned $319,853 in adjusted gross income and paid $72,787 in federal taxes last year, including $2,721 in alternative minimum taxes. They claimed $995 in deductions for charitable giving, about triple what they deducted in any of the nine previous years. Over the past decade they reported giving an average of $369 to charity....
The Bidens' giving represents a smaller portion of their income than the $353 then-Vice President Al Gore was criticized for donating on an income of $197,729 in 1997.
In the Saturday New York Times story, “Biden Releases Tax Returns, in Part to Pressure Rivals,” John Broder buried the skimpy charitable donation figure, and cited just one year:
....Mr. Biden’s tax returns show why he consistently ranks as one of the least wealthy members of the Senate. He has virtually no outside or investment income and pays a substantial amount in interest on his home mortgage.
For 2007, Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill, paid taxes of $66,273 on an adjusted gross income of $319,853, which included $71,000 in royalties from his book. The couple, who file jointly, claimed $62,954 in deductions, including $995 in gifts to charities and $38,712 in interest payments. They earned $99 in interest on savings accounts and nothing in dividends....