Income Inequality Plagues Congress, Too

The income inequality that plagues Americans also is evident among members of Congress, a new analysis shows.

Income Inequality Plagues Congress, Too Photo (cc) by cliff1066™

The income inequality that plagues Americans can also been seen among members of the U.S. Congress, a new analysis shows.

The Center for Responsive Politics’ latest annual report on the personal wealth of members of Congress, released this week, shows that the individual net worth of federal lawmakers ranges from an estimated $437 million to about negative $25 million.

That’s based on the nonprofit’s analysis of members’ personal financial disclosure statements covering 2014.

Of the 534 current members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, the 53 richest owned nearly 80 percent of the estimated wealth of all federal lawmakers last year.

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, who made a fortune in the car alarm business, held his No. 1 ranking with an estimated net worth of $437 million.

Republican Rep. David Valadao of California was ranked last, with an estimated net worth of negative $25 million last year. The center attributes Valadao’s 2014 deficit — which is more than twice as much as his 2013 deficit — to lines of credit he has used to help his dairy business.

Like Valadao, 20 other members of Congress have a negative net worth due to liabilities that exceed their assets.

Still, the average member of Congress is better off financially than the average American, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

No member lives in poverty, as the center says. Congressional salaries alone remain at $174,000. That ranks all members of Congress in the top 10 percent of American wage earners. Further, the median wealth of members of Congress was about $1.1 million in 2014.

Sheila Krumholz, CRP executive director, says:

“It may be surprising to learn that there are disparities in wealth among members of Congress that are similar to the inequities in the wealth of the general population. Still, lawmakers continue to be far more affluent than the people they represent, on average, and that affluence grew at faster clip last year. The differences between the ultra rich and the merely rich among them doesn’t seem very likely to sensitize them to the plight of the average American.”

How do you feel about your federal representatives’ net worth? Sound off in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More


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