Vice President Joe Biden drew laughter from the audience at a National Urban League conference in Ohio this week when he lamented not having even one Republican child. "I should have had one Republican kid to go out and make money," Biden said. "You know, so when they put me in a home, I get a window with a view. You know what I mean?"
Biden has long made a habit of casting himself as comparatively poor, saying in June that he is the "poorest man in Congress," a claim which is best supported by his high levels of debt. Biden also says he has no savings and no investments, which is true by technicality: The stocks and bonds are in his wife's name.
Biden may indeed be poor compared to the many millionaires who roam the halls of Congress, but surely not compared to the population at large. He has been a senator or vice president continuously since 1973, when congressional salaries were pegged at $42,500 per year, and he now earns an annual salary of $230,700. Median per capita income in 1973 and 2012 was $4,141 and $28,281, respectively.
Biden's poverty rhetoric has been compared to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's much-criticized statement in June that her family was "dead broke" upon leaving the White House at the end of Bill Clinton's term.