While Americans suffer, Congress gets richer

Posted on November 2, 2011


Members of Congress had a collective net worth of more than $2 billion in 2010, more than a 25 percent increase over the 2008 total, according to an analysis of members’ financial disclosure forms.

Nearly 90 percent of that increase is concentrated in the 50 richest Members of Congress.  The richest have most of the wealth. Sound familiar?

Two years ago, the minimum net worth of House Members was slightly more than $1 billion; Senators had a combined minimum worth of $651 million for a Congressional total of $1.65 billion. The minimum net worth is determined by adding the minimum values of all reported assets and subtracting the minimum values of all reported liabilities. That amount does not include homes and other non-income-generating property, which is likely to tally hundreds of millions of uncounted dollars. The amount also doesn’t include undisclosed, unreported or “exempted” wealth or the value of personal possessions.

And as the Occupy Wall Street protesters around the country are being beaten, tazed, maced and jailed for decrying the grotesque consolidation of wealth in America, the trend can be seen starkly in Congress, a comparison suggested by the American Enterprise Institute. The 50 richest members of Congress accounted for 78 percent of the net worth in the institution in 2008 ($1.29 billion of the $1.65 billion total); by 2010 the share of the 50 richest had risen to 80 percent ($1.63 billion of the $2.04 billion total). The pie of Congressional wealth got bigger, and the richest politicians are getting a bigger slice.

As with the general U.S. population, a few exceedingly wealthy people skew the averages for the rest of the membership. But still, by almost any measure, the average member of Congress is far wealthier than any average taxpayer they claim to represent.

And Congress appears to be getting richer faster than the rest of the nation. Citing Federal Reserve data, “From the end of 2008 to end of 2010, aggregate household worth increased four percent.” That is about one-fifth the increase Congress achieved during the same time period.

So … the question is, are you better off under this Congress?   This Congress certainly is.