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How Wealth of Members of Congress has TRIPLED in 25 years- While Average U.S. Families Suffered a DROP in their WorthBy David Richards Special to Salem-News.com
Median net worth of member of Congress rose from $280,000 to $725,000 between 1984 and 2009.
(WASHINGTON D.C. Daily Mail) - The wealth gap between those governing the U.S. and the people they represent has dramatically widened, research shows.
Against a backdrop of a vast budget deficit and fears of the fragility of the economy, analysis by the Washington Post shows that the median net worth of a member of Congress has nearly tripled over 25 years while the income of an average U.S. family has actually fallen.
It calculated that their median net worth, between 1984 and 2009 and excluding home equity, rose from $280,000 to $725,000.
The Occupy Wall Street activists have given voice to rising concerns over banker bonuses, unemployment and distribution of wealth. Here they are pictured demonstrating last week in Times Square, in New York City to mark the three-month anniversary of the movement.
Research by the Washington Post calculated that the median net worth of a House member, between 1984 and 2009, rose from $280,000 to $725,000.
This graphic shows the level of U.S. debt which has grown dramatically in the past 30 years.
The analysis comes at a time of growing concern about unemployment and the prospects for the economy.
Over those same 25 years the wealth of the average U.S. family slipped from $20,500 from $20,600, a University of Michigan study shows. In 1984, one in five House members had zero or negative net worth and by 2009 that number had dropped to one in 12. 1984 was chosen as the starting point for the analysis because it is the earliest year in which consistent wealth statistics are available, the newspaper said.
From captains of industry to former finance executives members of Congress have always been richer than their fellow Americans.
The reasons put forward for their wealth now include the high cost of entering politics in the first place as well as inheriting wealth and marrying into money.
Protected from the economic ravages faced by the rest of the population the lawmakers are now edging into the '1 percenter' income group attacked by the Occupy Wall Street protesters. The anti-corporation protesters have given voice to rising concerns over banker bonuses, unemployment and distribution of wealth.
The movement which began in New York in September - and marked its 100th day of protests last week - has spread to cities across the U.S. and across the world.
While the rise in lawmaker's wealth might not attract controversy when times are good it starts to become an issue when times are tough. 'With the American public feeling all this economic pain, people just resent it more,' Professor Alan J Ziobrowski of Georgia State told the New York Times.
As Wall Street closed for the Christmas break it was digesting a mixed bag of news showing the job market is growing even though the economy is not moving as fast as expected. Jobless benefit applications fell last week to their lowest level since April 2008 but the economy only grew by 1.8 per cent in the summer quarter. The Dow Jones, S&P and Nasdaq all finished up after the closing bell, but by less than one per cent as traders considered the overall picture.
As an indication of the different lives some politicians lead, the Hawaii Reporter revealed that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who served as Speaker of the House, is spending her Christmas at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai in Kona on the island of Hawaii.
As an indication of the different lives some politicians lead, the Hawaii Reporter revealed that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (right), who served as Speaker of the House and is believed to have a $196million fortune, is spending her Christmas at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai (left) on the island of Hawaii.
Ms. Pelosi, estimated to have a $196 million fortune, has spent the past two Christmas holidays in the same hotel in a suite which costs $10,000 a night.
The New York Times' report into the wealth of members of Congress found that they were also getting rich compared with affluent Americans. It found that the median net worth of members of Congress rose 15 per cent from 2004 to 2010 as the net worth of the richest 10 per cent of the country remained for the most part flat.
This disparity between those they represent also translated into a wider gap in their experiences of the economy, the Post found.
It interviewed Gary Myers, the son of a bricklayer, a Republican who entered Congress in 1975. He said his experience of having worked as a foreman in a steel mill shaped his outlook and led him to vote in favour of raising the minimum wage and helped him to understand the need for workers to have a safety net. 'It would be hard to argue that the work in the steel mill didn't give me a different perspective,' he told the Post. 'I think everybody's history has an impact on them.'
The same area is now represented by Republican Mike Kelly who was elected last year. After graduating he married the heiress to an oil fortune and took over his father's car dealership where he had worked as a youngster.
He told the paper he believed he was overtaxed already and that unemployment benefits made some people less willing to look for employment.
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