With all the writing I have been doing regarding generosity and the presidential election just 4 short days away I thought this would be a good time to address the generosity of those running for office this year. All of this information is public record (imagine if your giving was on public record – how would that change how you give?) and the links to my sources are all included.
Looking first at the Democrats we’ll start with Joe Biden. Here is a chart of the Bidens’ giving for the years covered by the tax returns:
Gross Income Charity
1998 $215,432 $195
1999 $210,797 $120
2000 $219,953 $360
2001 $220,712 $360
2002 $227,811 $260
2003 $231,375 $260
2004 $234,271 $380
2005 $321,379 $380
2006 $248,459 $380
2007 $319,853 $995
Total $2,450,042 $3,690
Last year Joe Biden made $319,853 and gave $995.00 – a whopping one quarter of one percent of his income to charity. And that was his BEST year of giving. Looking at what the Biden’s gave over a ten year period it is the equivalent to what a family making a third of his income would tithe in four months!
On to Barack Obama. Barack Obama wasn’t doing much better until 2005 when he began running for president. Prior to that time, his charitable giving averaged 0.9%. Since he’s been running for president, it increased to 4.7% in 2005 and 6.1% in 2006. Whatever his motive, I’m glad to see it increasing.
Bottom line here – if you think big government is going away with the Democrats you are incorrect. Their personal giving record shows that they don’t feel giving to charity will make any difference. Just send the government all your hard earned money and they will take care of all the problems in the world.
Now for a look at the Republicans. The Palin’s gave 3.3% of their income in 2006 and 1.5% in 2007 (an average of 2.4% for the two years. Although this percentage is 19x more than Biden and 2.5x more than Obama (before he began his presidential run)…it is still disappointing to me. I realize that the average American family gives about 2% of their income to charitable organizations, but I expect more out of our leaders. I expect even more from a leader like Sarah Palin. The Palin’s are members of the Church on the Rock in Juneau, Alaska and have been attending since 2000 there. Looking at the Biblical view on what a tithe (tenth) is I would expect more from them.
Lastly, John McCain. John McCain gave more than 25% of his income in 2007 to charity. He and his wife believe so much in the concept of helping others that they set up the John and Cindy McCain Foundation to help manage their charitable giving. He didn’t just start doing this recently. He has given ALL of his book royalties to charity since the first book deal in 1998 (more than $1.8 million given to charity in ten years). In 1991 (yes, 17 years ago), he opposed a pay raise that the Senate voted for themselves, so he gave that pay raise to charity that year, and every year since, adding up to more than $450,000.
This stuff matters. Who do you want leading the country? Someone who believes that government is the solution to all of our problems or someone who will get the money into the hands of organizations that get the job done. Remember this, when the Katrina hit the Gulf Coast it was the charitable organizations that hit the ground running effectively – not the government. When the Tsunami hit Indonesia it wasn’t our government that ran to the aid of the people – it was the charitable organizations worldwide that came to bring the much needed supplies and care-giving.
When the next disaster strikes, and I’m not being all “the end of the world is coming, judgment and wrath are upon us!” I’m just being realistic. When the next disaster strikes, who do you want leading our country?
“I’m Kevin Twombly and I approve this post.”