Kamala Harris is richer than Joe Biden (and sells a lot more books)

Although it is difficult to draw conclusions about the wealth of the US president and his second-in-command, based on financial disclosure reports, the latter has more bank accounts and has made more from royalties

US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at an event at the White House.
US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at an event at the White House.JIM LO SCALZO (EFE)

Joe Biden may be her boss, but Kamala Harris is apparently richer than him and her books are much more successful. That’s according to the financial disclosure reports of the US president and vice president that were published by the White House on Friday. Although the reports are not very precise, it can be concluded that Harris has more financial wealth than the president and also earns more for her work outside of the White House.

The most accurate data in the reports concerns income from book sales. And Harris is a bestseller next to Biden. In the last year, the president received just over $29,000 in royalties for his 2007 book Promise Me, Dad, which focuses on the death of his eldest son, Beau Biden, who died from a brain tumor. And he earned less than $201 in royalties from his 2008 book Promises to Keep.

Kamala Harris, who has more recent books, has earned a lot more in book sales. The US vice president earned just over $326,000 in royalties from the different editions of The Truths We Hold, which was released in 2019, and another $130,000 for Superheroes Are Everywhere, her children’s book published that same year. In total, around $456,000 in royalties.

It’s harder, however, to draw conclusions about the wealth of Biden and Harris. The way assets are declared in the financial disclosure reports makes it difficult to precisely calculate how much each has in bank accounts, investment funds and pension plans. Instead of declaring the exact amount, the US leaders select the appropriate bracket, for example between $15,000 and $25,000, or between $500,000 and $1 million. This means a bank account with $501,000 falls into the same category as one with $999,000, meaning there is a wide margin of error, especially when multiple accounts are being declared.

That said, Harris has more accounts than Biden, and they are in a higher bracket. She has between $750,000 and $1.5 million in personal accounts and $250,000 to $500,000 in a joint account with her husband, Doug Emhoff. Her husband, who is a successful lawyer, also has more financial wealth than the first lady, Jill Biden. The US president, meanwhile, has between $700,000 and $1.5 million in bank accounts and between $200,0000 to $670,000 in investments.

Biden also has a mortgage of between $250,000 and $500,000 with TD Bank, a US subsidiary of the Canadian financial giant Toronto-Dominion Bank. The home loan, which has an interest rate of 3.375%, was signed in 2013 for a 30 year-term. This means that by the time it expires in 2043, Biden will be 101 years old. The US president has two other non-mortgage loans between $15,000 and $50,000.

Harris took out a larger mortgage, of between $1 and $5 million, to buy her family home. The mortgage was signed in 2020 with Wells Fargo, with an interest rate of 2.625% interest, for a seven-year term. She had another mortgage for the same amount, but sold the property and paid off the loan.

While Harris on paper may seem wealthier than Biden on paper, given the size of her mortgage (and the large bracket it falls in), as well as the fact that the declarations do not include real estate assets, any conclusions about the president and vice president’s wealth must be taken with caution.

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