U.S. Congress wealth

Congress35.4x (3,537%)

If you’re a member of Congress, the past 25 years or so have been pretty good for you.  If you’re not a member of Congress – which is obviously most of the people in America – then you know all too well that the past two-and-a-half decades have been pretty rough for a lot of people.  In a recent article in The Washington Post it was revealed that while the median net worth (excluding home equity) of all U.S. families actually declined from 1984 to 2009, the same figure for members of the U.S. House of Representatives increased by $445,056.  When expressed relative to the net-worth of the median American family, the members of the House increased increased their wealth significantly from 13.6x in 1984 to 35.4x in 2009.

Congressional net worth

Oh and did I mention the six figure salaries, paid travel, generous expense allowances, and cushy health and retirement benefits that all 535 member of Congress receive?

To be completely honest, I think the jobs these individuals have to do warrants the same kind of attractive compensation packages that large corporations would offer to executives.  To attract the best talent you do need to offer a compelling financial opportunity.  That said, in a time when approval ratings for Congress are at all-time lows I’m not sure that the average U.S. family feels like the elected officials in Washington can relate to their struggles.  Perhaps this is why.

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9 thoughts on “U.S. Congress wealth

  1. Over that same period, you see an even wider gap between executive compensation and the regular worker. The conspiracy theorist in me see a correlation between the two. Is this trickle down economics? I’m not really trying to be political here, but it feels as if congress and the upper class is systematically destroying a fundamental part of the economy in the middle class.
    Housing had to adjust, the prices just got way too out of whack and supply way exceeded demand. I do also understand that our economy has gone through a fundamental shift from a manufacturing base to a service base. People say we don’t “make” anything anymore but that simply is not true. America is still innovative, but what we ‘make’ in today’s world requires a higher degree of education than it did 20 or 30 years ago.

    I don’t have an answer here, but I get the feeling that there is no short term fix to our economy at this point. It is not about raising wages for the factory worker or killing benefits and pay for congress. It is about educating a workforce to perform a higher level job while we outsource certain things into the global economy. It is about establishing a set of laws and a justice system that does not overcrowd our prisons. It is about eliminating a dependency on our government for survival and building an economy based on everyone contributing.

    All are issues that do not get solved over night. But what this does make me question is if we have the right people in power to begin to solve the issue.

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  3. There are a lot of good points here but regarding your conspiracy theory, I think it simply comes down to the notion that we are becoming a nation of “haves and have nots.” The collapse of the housing market that drives a lot of the net worth of the middle class all but wiped out the assets of many members of the U.S. middle class. I concur with your statement about education being a key element required for the survival of the middle class and thanks to astronomical tuition costs and the fear of a crushing debt burden, some of the Millennials are rethinking the value of a college education.

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