Presidential candidate and former VP Joe Biden has been known to incorporate his middle class roots into his public persona for years now. His daily commute on the DC Amtrak is part of the Biden mythos, as well as his oft-repeated claim to have frequently been the poorest person in the US Senate during his time as a senator. But if there's one thing that's a guaranteed pocketbook booster, it's a job in the White House, and since his time as VP Biden has parlayed his eight years as Barack Obama's second banana into millions in income since leaving the position in 2017.
Those millions reportedly come mostly from book deals and paid speaking engagements, some of which have Biden commanding fees as high as $200,000 per speech. At the same time, Biden and the people in his orbit have seemingly tried to avoid the public scrutiny of speaking engagements for Goldman Sachs and other politically controversial entities that dogged Hillary Clinton during her failed 2016 campaign, choosing instead to limit his speaking gigs to "less politically sensitive venues," according to a recent Washington Post report.
Press scrutiny about things like income can make or break presidential campaigns, and for Biden who has often referred to himself as "Middle Class Joe" and touted his less-than-affluent status as a candidate, it could be especially tricky to navigate over the next several months. But despite his recent good fortunes, he does have a solid foundation of relatively humble wealth compared to most of his colleagues in presidential politics, and financial disclosures going back to 1998 show he and his wife Jill with an average annual income in the neighborhood of $215,000 a year until 2009, when they got a $55,000 boost from pensions and Social Security payments. By the time the Bidens reached their final years as VP and Second Lady, their total income had risen to about $390,000 per year.
After leaving office in January of 2017, Joe finally joined the financial big leagues, signing an $8 million book deal with his wife for three books, two by him and one by her. The aforementioned speaking engagements, along with big ticket compensations for travel and free meals on the road. Since announcing his presidential candidacy in earnest, however, the paid speaking gigs have come to a temporary stop, and he's back to making his pitch full time, even getting back onto that Amtrak for trips to DC and New York. And according to the Post, his allies on the campaign trail say he still regularly changes the oil on his old 1967 Corvette Stingray, a gift from his father.
According to his tax returns which were released in July 2019, Joe and Jill Biden earned $16 million between 2016 and 2018. Most of that, roughly $10 million, came from book advances and book royalties.