A Congressional Plutocracy
Members of Congress build their careers on the idea that they’re regular folks sent to Washington to act on behalf of regular folks. A Roll Call analysis today tells a different story, revealing that the combined value of all House members’ assets is at least $1.13 billion — with the 10 richest representatives accounting for more than half of that. The median net worth of House lawmakers, at about $366,000, is more than 33 times that of the average American household, Roll Call found.
The list’s center seat is shared by Reps. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) and Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.), with personal fortunes of at least $366,000 and $365,000, respectively.
By comparison, a Census Bureau report issued in 2008 — but based on data from 2002, the most recent available — found the median net worth for 110 million U.S. households at $59,000 including home equity. Excluding home equity, as Members do on their disclosures, the average American was worth about $11,000.
This should come as no surprise. It takes a lot of money to win an election these days — lending an early advantage to those who already have some wealth, not to mention the connections that go along with it.
Nor is this to say that wealthy lawmakers have no capacity to empathize with their constituents. But it might lend some explanation why Wall Street has done much better, under the various recession-fighting bills to come out of Congress, than Main Street.