October 26th, 2007
07:40 PM ET
10 years ago

Biden: 'I don't own a single share of stock'

Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware.

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - Speaking before a crowd of senior citizens, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware,  acknowledged the need for increased financial literacy and emphasized that investing was also outside his comfort zone.

"I come from a working class family, my dad was a gentle, honorable man who was a wonderful fellow, high school educated," Biden said.

"When I went into college, I didn't know what a bond was or a stock or an investment, my dad didn't know. You never discussed it. I wasn't even sure what a mortgage was and I'm not a slow fellow. But it's your comfort level and what you're used to and how you're raised."

Biden also noted that he was one of the poorest men in Congress owing to a "stupid" decision he had made when he entered office.

"I made some very stupid judgments when I got elected. I promised I'd never own a stock or a bond because Nixon had all that trouble with what stocks he owned.  Very smart thing for guy to promise," Biden said with disdain.

"The worst part is that in my neighborhood, a promise made is a promise kept. I've kept it for thirty years so guess what, lucky me, I don't own a single share of stock."

Biden's solutions to increase financial literacy include extensive early economic training before college and creating mandates for companies to provide automatic paycheck deductions into retirement accounts. Such mandates would allow employees the choice of whether to enroll in the program.

The forum, hosted by AARP was held in partnership with the New Hampshire members of "Divided We Fail," a coalition of AARP, business roundtable and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). So far, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut have also participated in the New Hampshire forums.

Click here to see CNN's new political portal: CNNPolitics.com

- ­CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla

Filed under: Joe Biden • New Hampshire
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Melissa Mc. Deerfeld IL

    That's why I like Joe Biden. True and faithful to his word, is obviously more important than excuses.

    October 26, 2007 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  2. a.thomas, ny, ny

    Biden (lawyer himself) needs a financial advisor, while Romney needs a legal counsel. One is a blind man, and the other can be his walking stick. Each has publicly mentioned not comfortable out of his comfort zone.

    During the first CNN debate, Biden said his net worth was between $70,000-$150,000. For a man of 65 yrs old, and having been working as a senator for many years, that amount of personal net worth is not much. A personal home value can easily exceed that amount, even if he shares his home with his wife.

    If elected, don't trust Biden on making good judgement on american finances, and don't trust Romney's judgement on legislative issues.

    October 26, 2007 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  3. Chris, Middletown, CT

    and ya wonder why the left is looking for more entitlement programs – perhaps many promised "I will never provide for my own family when the government and those "rich" can do it for me" – amazing group...(and proud too)

    October 26, 2007 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  4. Pacfree, br, uk

    that's your own problem. Who cares anyway

    October 27, 2007 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  5. Sam, IA

    Joe,Joe, Joe. We need you buddy but sadly you don't have the chance of a snowball in Hades. Thoughful analysis in todays society is not nearly as important as a good line of hatespeak. Ask Rush and Hannity, They have amassed a fortune with demogougery.

    October 27, 2007 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  6. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    I don't think Biden's excuse about stock is true. They were not smart enough to invest that time or not interested in being rich. Middle Class doesn't mean proud class, everybody should invest and save the money legally, it helps their family, our society and Government. I have never thought being rich in my life, but I admire those people who had ideas to invest their money legally and have a comfortable life.
    I don't regret my life, but honestly, the truth is that I was dumb about finance. I don't respect excuses.

    October 27, 2007 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  7. Colleen,ny

    As a Democrat I would not vote for Joe Biden, but he does have a very good point there about investing being outside his comfort zone. The way the Bush adminisration has ruined our economy in the last seven years investing your money in the stock market is very risky. I would prefer CD's, you certainly wouldn't make as much, but you would not lose any either.

    October 27, 2007 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  8. Bob, skidsville usa

    STOP LYING!!!! One of the poorest men in Congress?? I guess that means he has about 15 million and not 50 million compared to the other rich fat cats on the hill.

    October 27, 2007 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  9. Eric, from THE Republic of Texas

    Not own stock? Is the man a complete idiot?

    When more and more common everyday Americans own stock, they become more self reliant, and here's the key point, less likely to need a government teat upon which to suckle.

    Political convictions are one thing. Taking a vow of poverty due to those convictions is naive. Wanting (and forcing via taxes) others to do the same is criminal.

    Taking a vow to not own stock (ie not take care of his family financially) is simply irresponsible. But, such is the case with idealistic Sixties left-over Marxists.

    October 27, 2007 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  10. Dan (Baltimore, MD)

    Thanks, Joe. One more reason for people not to vote for you. If you don't understand or are scared of solid financial decisions and investing in our country's economy, then how in the world are you going to manage the most gigantic budget in all the world – the executive branch of the U.S. government? This guy is a joke.

    October 27, 2007 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  11. James, Phoenix AZ


    Your mentality is the REASON Social Security is going broke. You're ignorance around sound investment strategies has lead you to say "I'll never own a stock"... yet you expect America to vote for you as President?

    When you're called upon to name a Fed Reserve Chairman – that has a major impact on the Stock Market based on interest rate adjustments... will you have a clue what to do??

    Certainly it is your right to swear off stocks.... to your own financial failure. We, voters, must choose a Presidential candidate which understands how to move this country forward. Chosing you would be a failure to our country.

    October 27, 2007 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  12. Kris, St. Louis, MO

    Colleen, that's a gigantic claim without a warrant behind it. Bush didn't ruin the American economy, Americans are ruining the American economy by trying to live grossly above their means. They are ruining the economy by taking out loans they can't pay back. They are ruining the economy by spending more time and effort on who got booted from Dancing With The Stars than gaining even the most basic sense in financial literacy, like Joe Biden. It's not hard, there's tons of books on investing, credit, and everything at your public library. You shouldn't make an assertion you can't back up.

    October 27, 2007 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. Herod

    What would Jesus do?

    October 27, 2007 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  14. Robert


    We ask for politicians who are NOT corrupt–people who are not paid for (unlike Hillary and Obama) and people who keep their promises and don't compromise their principles (unlike Giuliani and Romney).

    We ask for honesty and intelligence, and vote for the opposite qualities when given the choice.

    Congratulations, Hillary and Obama supporters. You really demonstrate hypocrisy and stupidity in your decision making.

    October 27, 2007 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  15. Tom Quinn, Cincinnati,OH

    So here is another politician 'good to his word' – but no about to change in the face of reality. My parents didn't have stocks either, but now in my 60's, I would be a fool to have not to participate in the markets. What I don't like here is the inability to change. Reminds me so much of the current adminisitration...

    October 27, 2007 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. Robert

    The greedy speak because money is everything. They also vote and get what they deserve: Dick Cheney and George Bush.

    October 27, 2007 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  17. Jonathan, New York NY

    Joe Biden is Batman.

    Spread the word.

    October 27, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. ronnie - knoxville, tn.

    wow, kind of makes me feel good to be worth waaay more than Sen. Biden.

    but, on to my comment – Joe, it's not our fault you're stupid with money

    October 27, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  19. Laura -Tulsa, OK

    blogger Tom Quinn –

    I disagree with your characterization that the administration does not change its direction. In Iraq it has installed a new plan , and I daresay it's working spectacularly.

    October 27, 2007 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  20. Jeff, Chicago, IL

    So far this election has been a junior high school popularity contest.

    When I look for the next president I don't want a corrupt individual. Biden is one of the poorest men in the Senate because he has morals and doesn't take money from companies that would ask him to change his vote.

    Lets wake up and take a look at who we really want running our country because right now all I see is a bunch of hypocrites.

    October 27, 2007 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. MLou, WI

    So he should have reneged on his campaign promise not to own stock? Then y'all would be screaming about his integrity!
    Someone who is honest about their weaknesses gets criticized for not being a PhD. in every subject, yet people support the candidate who never ran a business and REFUSES to release her papers from her time in the White House and that is A-Okay!
    Biden knows himself. He also knows many excellently qualified people with integrity.
    A wise man admits he doesn't know all the answers and seeks out those that do. A stupid man will do what he wants based on invented "facts" and to heck with that pesky constitution!
    Candidates with Integrity or more of the same lies we have now?
    I thought a simple choice like this would be a no-brainer for every American. Judging by who the front-runners are, it appears Americans have no brains.

    October 27, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  22. Julie Overvig Medford,Oregon

    What a decent honest man Biden is keeping a promise and standing by it knowing it would cost him money. He is also the only candidate who has a son going off to fight this war, while the Republican candidates talk tough about the war but none of there sons or daughters are in harms way. Biden has what we need in a President and he has my vote

    October 27, 2007 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  23. James Kelley, Madison, Mississippi

    So he doesn't own any stock. I know a lot of people who don't own stock. As a senator he's guaranteed a good salary for the rest of his life. His family has been well provided for. Why does he need to own stocks unless his goal is to become very wealthy?

    So he focuses on something besides making money. What's the problem? If Mahatma Gandhi had stated that he didn't own a single share of stock, should he have been prevented from leading his people in India's independence movement? Would that make you consider him dumb? Since when do we equate intelligence with having a desire to be a millionaire? Perhaps it's not Joe Biden who is lacking.

    How sad that we now measure a person's worth by the size of their bank account. Go ahead and put your faith in the political rich kids like Bush and Kerry. I'd gladly trade them all in for a good old fashioned working stiff like Joe Biden. And despite not being a millionaire, I'd take his intellectual prowess and leadership skills over any of his political rivals. I find his attitude absolutely refreshing.

    October 27, 2007 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  24. Christopher, El Paso Texas

    "'Very smart thing for a guy to promise,' Biden said with disdain." (my italics) In other words, he knows it was a mistake. While it is important to keep a promise, you should try to honorably get out of a mistaken one. For instance, if this really was an important campaign promise, he could send out an email or say in a press conference, "I made a mistake when I said I will never own stocks. I have since learned that is important for Americans to save for retirement and their family's future, and to educate themselves financially. I will soon begin investing in an index fund that will allow me to own a wide range of stocks in order avoid the conflicts of interest that troubled Nixon." By specifically and actively trying to avoid the conflict of interest, he would still be true to the intention of the promise. Half intelligent constituents, if they even notice, would realize the integrity and intelligence behind the announcement. If they disagreed, they could vote against him in the next election. But true, his opponent would hammer this in the campaign if there wasn't much dirt on him. I might look at Biden again – unlike Clinton, he can at least admit when he's made a mistake. I don't want to have to choose between a Republican Hawk and a Democratic Hawk next year.

    October 28, 2007 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  25. Stefan Gaithersburg, MD

    Of course he doesn't own stock, why does he need to? Congress has their own lucrative retirement plan. Meanwhile we're stuck with social securtiy that, guess what?, they're exempt from paying into. How hypocritical, they're exempt from paying into the same system that they won't let us opt out of. No wonder their approval rating is 22%.

    October 28, 2007 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
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