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.”