Even when making more than $250,000, he gave away less than 1 percent to charity until he became a millionaire.
Thinking about Barack Obama's impromptu lecture to Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher about his plans to "spread the wealth", I wondered whether Obama was a practitioner of his own "spread the wealth" principles when he had the opportunity to do so, or whether he was the cheap political opportunist and redistributor of the wealth of others that he appeared to be.
Looking at Obama's charitable giving in since 2000 based on his tax returns, we find that Obama consistently refused to follow his own advice to "spread the wealth" when he had the opportunity to do so. This is especially true in years when he made nearly $250,000 or more. Their contributions didn't increase until Barack Obama's extraordinary book deal helped make him a millionaire and Michelle Obama received a nearly $200,000 raise in May 2005 when she assumed a new position with her employer as vice president of "community and external affairs".
As the chart below shows (HT: TaxProf Blog), from 2000-2004, Obama's charitable giving was less than 1 percent: In fact, Obama gave substantially less than the average family making more than $150,000, which averages giving of 2.2 percent of total income according to University of George Professor Russell James. By comparison, John McCain gave more than one-quarter of his income in 2006 and 2007 (28.6 and 27.3 percent respectively). And according to the New York Observer, since 1998, he has donated royalties on his books totaling more than $1.8 million.
When Barack and Michelle Obama could voluntarily give more of their own income and had the means well beyond most Americans to do so, they refused. In the event that Barack Obama is elected President, however, he and his Democrat allies in Congress intend to force others to do what he couldn't do on his own.