Political Hay

When Will Biden Pony Up?

Will the Senator duck Treasury rule that allows him to raise his own taxes right now?

By 9.23.08

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So what's with Joe Biden not paying more taxes? Is he unpatriotic?

With all those 36 years in the United States Senate behind him, surely Biden knows of the 1843 law that lets American citizens increase their own taxes by simply sending in a higher amount of money than they were officially taxed. A quick trip to the web page of the U.S. Treasury Department states the facts:

Citizens who wish to make a general donation to the U.S. government may send contributions to a specific account called "Gifts to the United States." This account was established in 1843 to accept gifts, such as bequests, from individuals wishing to express their patriotism to the United States. Money deposited into this account is for general use by the federal government and can be available for budget needs. These contributions are considered an unconditional gift to the government. Financial gifts can be made by check or money order payable to the United States Treasury and mailed to the address below.
Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
Hyattsville, MD 20782

The Obama-Biden campaign has been kind enough to put out the tax records for Senator Biden. According to the New York Times: "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."

$66,273???? That's all? How unpatriotic! Then again, there was that munificent sum of $995 for charity.

Remember the story about John McCain as prisoner of war? How, once the enemy discovered he was an admiral's son, they offered their already much tortured captive early release from prison? How McCain, knowing that others had been held in captivity longer than he, refused -- thereby condemning himself to a total of five and a half years in that hell hole of torture and abuse?

This is called leadership. Doing first yourself what you are asking of others.

Now.

Joe Biden has made much of the fact that people making more than $250,000 should pay more in taxes. In 2007 the Bidens earned more than $250,000, quite specifically $319, 853. Biden says of his fellow earners in the $250,000 and above tax range: "It's time to be patriotic...time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut."

Well, OK then. There's no time like the present for Joe Biden to lead by voluntarily raising his own taxes, to "be patriotic....jump in...be part of the deal...help get America out of the rut."

This is Joe Biden's tax equivalent of John McCain's POW moment. For one moment in time, the 2008 presidential election -- when everybody is watching -- Joe Biden can take the lead, personally, on taxes. He can call a press conference. Have his advance guys find him a good, dramatic visual like a Mom & Pop deli in Scranton. Summon the TV cameras. Stand behind the counter with an apron on. Then dramatically take out the Biden personal checkbook and write a check made payable to "The United States Treasury" and, with that great Bidenesque flair, sign it right along that bottom right hand line. At a minimum one would expect a staunch tax guy like Biden to up his own contributions to America by at least, say, 5%. Then again, Biden is a liberal on tax policy so why not 10%? Come to think of it, we all agree Biden is a patriot so why not a real patriotic 15% or 20%? Once he's signed the press can accompany him as taxpayer Joe walks through the streets of Scranton to the nearest mailbox and drops his patriotic gesture in the slot.

THEN LET'S HAVE a little dialogue on exactly where that extra Biden tax money will go. Starting with Biden's own requests for almost half a billion (that would be billion with a "b") dollars worth of earmarks, maybe Treasury could use Biden's check to help pay for:

* The $1 million he has requested for the ever vital "multi-use trail, linking the historic City of New Castle and the Christina River."

* Or maybe the $1 million Biden wants for an "upgrade" to "systems" in Wilmington's Grand Opera House.

* How about that $250,000 "to continue construction of a 3.9-acre waterfront park in downtown Lewes"?

Let's not leave the earmarks of Biden's running mate, Senator Obama, out of the bidding for Biden's patriotic tax dollars. Obama is no piker, either, and the Biden dollars could surely help the almost $1 billion in earmarks Obama has requested. Worthy of consideration for Joe's tax dollars on Obama's list?

* The $1.6 million to study the genes of pigs. (No word on whether that includes the lipstick.)

* The $2, 499,400 that Obama wants to increase access to the food stamp program.

* The $550,000 for "highlighting the incredible world of aquatic biology" to Obama's constituents.

* The $5 million desperately needed for " highlighting the impact that individual men and women can have upon a civil society."

This kind of use of your taxpayer dollars surely gives you that warm feeling of wanting to "jump in" and be "patriotic" no? What about Joe? Ya gotta believe, folks, that ole Joe -- he who, with Obama, voted a couple hundred million plus to fund that famous Alaskan Bridge to Nowhere that Governor Palin killed, would be thrilled -- thrilled! -- to have his check put to use studying pig genes.

SHOULD YOU HOLD your breath here? There are 40-some odd days left to this campaign and Joe Biden has America's undivided attention. Isn't it time to ask the question directly of Senator Biden? To say that we have no question of his patriotism? To say that now is the time for Joe Biden to demonstrate the same kind of leadership and self-sacrifice to his fellow Americans with his persona l checkbook that Senator McCain once demonstrated with his very life to his fellow POWs?

Isn't time to ask of Senator Biden when he will pony up?

Just in case, so there's no mistake, once again here's the address where the Biden check raising his own taxes, made out to "The US Treasury" can be sent today:

Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
Hyattsville, MD 20782

Isn't time for Joe Biden "to be part of the deal"?

Say it's so, Joe. Say it's so. And don't forget to let us all know.

Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania.

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.