Paul L. Caron

Monday, December 26, 2011

WaPo: Growing Wealth Widens Distance Between Lawmakers and Constituents

Washington Post, Growing Wealth Widens Distance Between Lawmakers and Constituents:

[T]he financial gap between Americans and their representatives in Congress has widened considerably since [1984], 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 has risen 2.5 times, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, rising from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars. Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the median sliding from $20,600 to $20,500. ... The growing disparity between the representatives and the represented means that there is a greater distance between the economic experience of Americans and those of lawmakers.

Washington Post, Net Worth in the U.S. Senate and House:

A look at the average net worth of all the members of Congress in 2010.

Members of the House and Senate with Net Worths Over $100 Million:

Darrell Issa R CA $448,125,017
Michael McCaul R TX $380,411,527
Jane Harman D CA $326,844,751
Jared Polis D CO $143,218,562
Vern Buchanan R FL $136,152,641
Nancy Pelosi D CA $101,123,032
John F. Kerry D MA $231,722,794
Mark R. Warner D VA $192,730,605
Herb Kohl D WI $173,538,010

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I'd second Juandos' comment - how many of these Congressmen made most of their money while Representatives or Senators?

Posted by: Edward Bosco | Dec 27, 2011 11:45:35 AM

One question though, how many of those listed had made the majority of their wealth before they got into Congress?

Its just a curiosity question on my part...

Posted by: juandos | Dec 27, 2011 10:41:09 AM

This discussion in the Washington Post is somewhat misleading as the price index for the wealth isn't the same as that for lower income individuals (Hint: they really do buy different things), and once you allow the index to vary you don't see the drop in median earnings and wealth as commonly assumed. Just because the government reports only one CPI doesn't mean that the real world works that way.

In addition, there is a strong argument to make that the CPI overstates inflation because it doesn't deal with the increasing quality of products. If an Apple iMac is the same as it was five years ago, would we really want to say that the price level has remained constant? Or that the quality of medical care or housing hasn't improved?

Adjusting for inflation the way it is commonly done is extremely misleading.

Posted by: John Lott | Dec 27, 2011 8:38:15 AM

Two words: term limits.

Posted by: PTL | Dec 27, 2011 7:45:49 AM

Funny how the top 1% of governing us. Forget Wall Street being top 1%, the real 1% is government

Posted by: m fox | Dec 26, 2011 8:01:05 PM