'$200 in book royalties, Joe? Maybe get an agent.' Photo: Biden campaign, Creative Commons license 2.0

In yet another return to normality that's so relentlessly normal you almost need to be reminded of it, the White House yesterday released tax returns for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses. To underline how that had been the norm from 1974 until the previous guy took office in 2017, the White House statement said, not at all tartly, "The President released his 2020 federal income tax return, continuing an almost uninterrupted tradition." Then presumably the executive mansion itself cleared its throat and rolled its eyes.

Also, for easy trivia points, remember that Richard Nixon first released his taxes in response to suspicions he was cheating. That, not Watergate, was the reason for the speech in which Nixon famously declared, "People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I am not a crook." (Narrator: "He was a crook who paid his taxes.")


We'll just go with Politico for the financial deets:

Biden and first lady Jill Biden reported $607,336 in adjusted gross income and more than $157,000 in federal tax paid — an effective federal tax rate of 25.9 percent. Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff reported nearly $1.7 million in adjusted gross income, with $621,893 in federal tax paid — an effective federal tax rate of 36.7 percent.

Biden's income dropped significantly from 2019, when he reported $985,233 in adjusted gross income.

Politico also points out that Harris and Emhoff's 2020 income was down significantly from 2019, but roughly similar to their 2018 income, which is a good reminder that a single economic data point is isn't necessarily a reflection of longterm trends. No particular April Employment Report reason we'd mention that.

Also, we'd like to point out yet again that one provision of the "For the People Act" voting reform bill would make it mandatory for both sitting presidents, veeps, and major party nominees to release tax information, if not their full returns.

Thank goodness the Murdoch media found something to be outraged at, by combining the tax returns with Biden and Harris's annual financial disclosures, which were also released yesterday. The New York Post went with a screamy headline implying Biden's getting away with something, somehow: "Joe Biden remains millionaire, he and Jill paid 26 percent in taxes last year."

Once you get a few paragraphs into the piece, you do get to the real numbers, including the higher rate paid by Harris and Emhoff, but you're also reminded that Biden, unlike his predecessor, a man of the people who never disclosed his taxes, has spent much of his life being paid by taxpayers simply because he was elected to public office. "But he banked a windfall after leaving office, netting more than $16.5 million in 2017, 2018 and 2019, largely from speaking at colleges." The monster.

Unlike virtually every other story on Biden and Harris releasing their tax returns, the Post story doesn't mention the New York Times reporting last year revealing that Donald Trump paid no federal income taxes at all for 10 of the 15 years before he took office, although he did manage to come up with $750 in taxes for 2016 and 2017. Since that's about $750 more than a lot of Trump voters would like their taxes to be, we can only assume it was an oversight on the Post's part.

We also learn that, because of the cap on deductions for state and local taxes put in place in the 2017 tax cut law, the Bidens were only able to deduct $10,000 of the $90,289 in state and local taxes they paid last year. Biden, Politico adds, has not endorsed getting rid of that cap on deductions, despite calls from many blue-state pols to do so and the financial benefits he'd reap.

As for the financial disclosure forms released yesterday, they don't seem to reveal any conflicts of interest; it appears neither Biden nor Harris has given any thought to renting golf carts to the Secret Service. And people call them "smart"!

Oh, yes, and in literary news, we bet Harris will probably bust her boss's chops over this detail from the disclosures:

Harris' disclosure form shows close to $360,000 in advances from publishers for her political memoir, "The Truths We Hold." Biden reported less than $201 in income each from two books.

But that's fine with us. The American Revolution was all about our leaders not having royalties.

[Politico / Brennan Center / Photo: Biden campaign, Creative Commons License 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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