President Obama did it. So did Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Attorney General Eric Holder. Some members of Congress have offered to do it, too.
But, setting up an awkward dynamic in the White House, there’s one high-profile Cabinet member who has not yet publicly pledged to return some of his government salary: Vice President Joe Biden. You would think that someone who has hinted he wants to run for president in 2016 would have a photo-op handing over the money.
One possible explanation is Biden’s net worth, which is on the modest side compared to the president and other Cabinet members. The Center for Responsive Politics calculates the vice president’s net worth at between $39,000 and $800,000 while the president’s ranges from nearly $3 million to just over $ 8 million. Kerry's net worth is estimated at between nearly $200 million and $300 million; Hagel's ranges from $2 million to $11 million, and Lew's is anywhere from $750,000 to to almost $2 million.
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“It is a more difficult calculus for members who are not as wealthy,” said one long-time senior Democratic Senate aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so he could be candid.