Gap Widens Between Congress, Constituents

The wealth of members of Congress has increased dramatically since Congressman Dennis Rehberg been in Congress, while the wealth of the average family has declined.   This puts them more out-of-touch than ever with what the average American is going through, the Washington Post reports.  Congressman Rehberg has consistently been rated one of the wealthiest members of Congress.  Jon Tester is a farmer and former music teacher.  As any Montanan can tell you, neither of those professions is high-paying.

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.

Over the last 15 years, the average net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, the Washington Post reports, while the wealth of the average American family has declined.  The average Congressional wealth increased from $280,000 to $725,000. But Congressman Rehberg’s wealth blows these numbers out of the water.  He averaged $30 million a year until he started campaigning for the U.S. Senate, when he appeared to be attempting to write down much of his wealth. Meanwhile, the the average American’s wealth declined slightly from $20,600 to $20,500.

The result: most members of Congress are more out of touch with what average people are going through. The Washington Post also reports that the income disparity gap is correlated with increased polarization of Congress, leading to gridlock, infighting, etc.  This certainly holds true in Rehberg’s case.  He’s been at the center of the deadlock since the budget debates intensified last year.

The NY Times also reported on the income divide between Congress and the rest of us–it’s even greater for TEA Party members of Congress:

“rarely has the divide appeared so wide, or the public contrast so stark, between lawmakers and those they represent.

The freshman class of 106 members elected last year, including many Tea Party-backed Republicans, had a median net worth of $864,000 — an inflation-adjusted increase of 26 percent from the 2004 freshmen.”

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4 Comments on "Gap Widens Between Congress, Constituents"

  1. Ron Paul promised a policy of setting the Presidential wage to be tied to that of the median american worker. Like him or no, it’s be interesting if that policy could be extended to Congress. (maybe tied to the median wage in their district?)

    I know there’s a heck of a lot of other ways a congressman can use his/her position to increase wealth… But shoot that’s a start. For crying out loud the NH State legislators get haven’t given themselves a raise in nearly 100 years! (paid $250/yr)

    Cheers for the story

  2. Here is the list of the top 25 members of Congress: http://www.opensecrets.org/pfds/overview.php?type=W&year=2010&filter=C

    Top 25 members of the House: http://www.opensecrets.org/pfds/overview.php?type=W&year=2010&filter=H

    Top 25 members of the Senate: http://www.opensecrets.org/pfds/overview.php?type=W&year=2010&filter=S

    No one from Montana is on any of these lists.

  3. Looks like he is in the 25 richest members in 2010. He’s always in the 50 richest. Remember, this is out of 435.

    http://www.rollcall.com/features/Guide-to-Congress_2010/guide/-49892-1.html

    23. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.)
    $10.90 million
    Although he jumped from 27th-richest Member last year to 23rd this year, the Montana lawmaker’s holdings remained mostly the same. The ranch and real estate owner increased his net worth by less than 1 percent last year, mostly because of slight increases in stock values.
    Rehberg continued to hold a majority of his wealth in several farms and ranches, valued at a combined $11.5 million, and in two Billings rental properties, valued at a combined minimum of $350,000.

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