Jan 2, 2012

Congress Gets Richer as Americans Lose Ground

The financial gap between Americans and their representatives in Congress has widened considerably, according to an analysis of financial disclosures by The Washington Post.

Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home equity.

Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan.
The comparisons exclude home equity because it is not included in congressional reporting, and 1984 was chosen because it is the earliest year for which consistent wealth statistics are available.

The richest members of Congress in 2010 and their average net worth follow:

Rep. Darrell Issa- Republican-CA
$448 million average net worth

Rep. Michael McCaul- Republican-TX
$326 million average net worth

John Kerry- Democrat-MA
$231 million average net worth

Mark Warner-Democrat-VA
$193 million average net worth

Thirty seven (37) Senate Democrats and 30 Senate Republicans have average net worth in excess of $1 million as did 110 House Republicans and 73 House Democrats.
The growing disparity between the representatives and the people they represent means that there is a greater distance between the economic experience of Americans and those of lawmakers. That lack of understanding results in support for legislation that is adverse to the middle class. It accounts to the war on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. They appear to be "interested in privatizing Social Security and Medicare so (their) Wall Street buddies can get their hands on the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds -- even though that would eliminate the guaranteed benefits that are so critical to the health and welfare of America's seniors."

Republicans in Washington didn't seem to care about the unemployment insurance or payroll tax holiday that would have expire within ten days at ear;s end because the House Republicans refused to pass a two-month extension while the terms of a year-long extension could be negotiated later.

Forty dollars a paycheck -- the cost of the increased payroll tax bite that everyday families would have experienced at the first of the year -- may not mean much to a multi-millionaire. But to ordinary families, $40 is the electric bill or several bags of groceries -- and after just a few pay periods, it begins to add up pretty fast.

Republican leaders of the House say that unemployment benefits discourage people from looking for work, disregarding the high unemployment rate and the competition for every job. They forget the foreclosure mess and the failure of the Comgress to address the associated issues. They don't even seem to have a clue that it is funding for public education and the public infrastructure that allows everyday Americans to have an opportunity to succeed -- or that government has a responsibility to jumpstart the economy so that everyday, middle class people can get jobs.

Having a family name and a mega inheritance, marrying wealth, or being born with a silver spoon in your mouth can make it impossible for you to relate to the economic struggle of the the average American.



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