Fact Check: Biden Claims He Could Not Afford Child Care As U.S. Senator

CLAIM: President Joe Biden claimed that he “could not afford child care … as a United States Senator” in 1973.

VERDICT: PROBABLY FALSE. Biden was a high earner and his sister, Valerie, moved in to take care of his two sons.

Biden told House Democrats Friday at their annual retreat that after his wife and daughter were killed in a car accident shortly after he was elected to the U.S. Senate, he commuted daily between Wilmington, Delaware, and Washington, DC, because he could not afford the cost of child care.

He made that point as a way of arguing for his proposal to cap child care expenses at 7% of income for individuals making less than $100,000, or families earning less than $120,000 annually.

“I did over 2 million some miles on Amtrak. But here’s the deal: I did it because I could not afford child care. I couldn’t even begin to think of it. And I was making, I was making at that time, as a United States Senator, I was making more money than I made before. I couldn’t afford it.”

Biden’s claim is probably false, as his Senate salary placed him among the country’s elite earners. Moreover, he wrote in his biography, Promises to Keep, that his sister, Valerie, moved in with him to help take care of his sons.

Biden has made this claim before. He did so, for example, in a Democratic Party presidential primary debate in Iowa in January 2020. The Washington Free Beacon noted at the time:

“I was a single parent, too,” Biden said when asked about universal childcare. “When my wife and daughter were killed, my two boys I had to raise. I was a senator, a young senator, I just hadn’t been sworn in yet. And I was making $42,000 a year.”

“I commuted every single solitary day to Wilmington, Delaware … 250 miles a day,” the former vice president continued. “Because I could not afford, but for my family, childcare. It was beyond my reach to be able to do it.”

While living on $42,000 would place Biden in the bottom half of U.S. households in today’s dollars, it placed him firmly among the richest Americans when he was sworn in as senator in 1973. Biden’s freshman Senate salary of $42,500 would be the equivalent of $256,370.77 in 2019 dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.

In a 1981 op-ed for the Salisbury, Md, newspaper the Daily Times titled “Congress is supporting deterioration of family,” Biden even argued that families in his income bracket were precisely the sort who did not need the federal government’s help providing for their childcare.

With Joe’s history of lying, or at the least exaggerating, I think we can definitely put this one in the false category for sure.

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