Senator Biden Paid Men More Than Women, Now Blames Pay Gap on White Men

Former VP: 'All white guys are just basically, they don't give a damn about women'

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden / Getty Images
January 17, 2020

In a New York Times interview, presidential hopeful Joe Biden said the barrier to equal pay for women has been white men at the "top of the heap"—but he took no blame for the unequal results in the one organization that had him at the top of the heap. Biden paid his male staffers more than his female staffers in each of his 36 years in the Senate.

Biden told the Times editorial board in an interview released Friday that wealthy Americans oppose equal pay because they "don't like the idea" of women being paid as much as men. However, women working in Biden's Senate office earned as little as 44 percent of what male employees made. Over the course of Biden's 36 years in the Senate, women on average earned just 67 cents for each dollar earned by men.

"All white guys are just basically, they don't give a damn about women. They don't care about equal pay," Biden said in the interview. "The people that don't like equal pay are at the top of the heap. I don't like the idea that you're going to get paid as much as a man doing your job."

Biden distinguished himself from wealthy Americans by invoking his middle-class background, saying that in "neighborhoods I come from" equal pay means "you can put four new tires on the car. ... It means you can replace your water heater. It means you can send your kid back to that community college."

But Biden himself was at the "top of the heap" as a senator. His 1973 freshman Senate salary of $42,500 equates to $256,370.77 in 2019 dollars. Biden paid women just 68 cents for each dollar earned by men in 1973, and continued to pay women less than their male counterparts during the entirety of his 36 years in the Senate, a Washington Free Beacon analysis found.

The Biden campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Though Biden has campaigned for the presidency as someone who's "fought for women's rights his whole career," his Senate office paid women two-thirds, on average, the amount male employees received. The pay gap was highest in 1983 and 1984, when Biden's female employees made only 44 percent of what male employees made.

Biden has also faced allegations of misconduct from at least eight different women. One accuser, Alexandra Tara Reade, served in Biden's Senate office for nine months. According to Reade, Biden would "put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck," and asked her to serve drinks at an event because he "liked her legs." 

Reade reported the misconduct to Senate personnel and left Biden's office shortly thereafter. She accused the former Delaware senator of reprimanding her for blowing the whistle on his alleged misconduct.

Biden's record with women has drawn criticism during the presidential campaign. During a July Democratic debate, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) criticized the Democratic frontrunner's opposition to a proposed child tax credit expansion.

"When the Senate was debating middle-class affordability for child care, [Biden] wrote an op-ed," Gillibrand said. "What he wrote in an op-ed was that he believed that women working outside the home would 'create the deterioration of family.' He also said that women who were working outside the home were 'avoiding responsibility.'"

Published under: 2020 Election , Joe Biden