Congress Has More Millionaires Than Non-Millionaires Now
Congress might not be very popular at the moment, but they've got other things to fall back on: According to non-partisan research group the Center for Responsive Politics, over half of our representatives in the House and Senate have net worths greater than $1,000,000. Each. The CRP analyzed data from personal financial disclosures filed by all but four members of Congress last year, and found that of 534 members, at least 268 fit the bill.
That's right: more than half of our legislative leaders are millionaires. The richest of them all? Republican Representative Darrell Issa of California, whose net worth is about $464 million.
This is a bipartisan issue, though, with Democrats recorded as overall richer. But the difference between the parties' medians was just $0.04 million, or $40,000.
While Congress has traditionally been more wealthy than the average American, this is new territory: in 2012, the median net worth of our congresspeople and senators was $1,008,767. The median American adult that same year? Just $38,786. Hmmm. The median family net worth isn't much higher, at $60,678, as calculated by NYU Economics professor Howard Woolf.
However, this isn't necessarily the legislators' fault. The U.S. already has more millionaires and billionaires than anywhere else in the world. In 2013, 1.7 of the 1.8 million new millionaires were American, even as the national median household income drops by the year. It's a consequence of income inequality — we're traditionally represented by the rich, and right now, the rich are getting richer.
Still, that doesn't decrease this issue's importance. This is a time when, as the CRP writes, "Lawmakers are debating issues like unemployment benefits, food stamps and the minimum wage, which affect people with far fewer resources, as well as considering an overhaul of the tax code."
The Democrats say that rectifying the issue of income inequality is one of their main goals in 2014 — but the issue clearly isn't affecting them the way it is much of the rest of the country. This could be problematic, because our representatives are elected to do just that: represent us.