August 29, 2012

Biden vs. Ryan: Who Gave More to Charity?

Some Republicans have criticized Vice President Joseph Biden for giving a small portion of his income to charity—about 1.5 percent last year and 1.4 percent in 2010.

In the latest jab, the GOP strategist Karl Rove told Politico this week that he makes “more charitable contributions as a percentage of my income than either [President Obama] or the vice president.”

“Of course, that’s not hard when it’s compared with Vice President Biden," Mr. Rove said. "I think he’s getting his tips on charitable contributions from Hillary Clinton pre-1992: You know, mark up the underwear and give it away to Goodwill.”

But will the critics back off now that the Republican vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan, has released his tax returns? The Wisconsin congressman and his wife, Janna, actually gave less of their income to charity in 2010 than Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill, did—$2,600, or about 1.2 percent.

That percentage rose to 4 percent, with $12,991 in donations, in 2011.

The charitable contributions of Mr. Biden and Mr. Ryan do not come close to those of the men at the top of the 2012 ballots:  President Obama and his wife, Michelle, donated 22 percent of their income in 2011; Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, gave about 19 percent, according to tax returns.

Dig deeper: See the link between presidential voting patterns and charitable giving in our How America Gives study.

Send an e-mail to Doug Donovan.