It looks like Congress and the Senate don't listen to us, the people, because an awful lot of our Representatives and Senators literally can't understand us. They come from backgrounds so wealthy and privileged that the way the rest of us live is beyond their ken. Sphere reports:
Apparently, times aren't so tough all over.
According to a new study compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, 237 members of the U.S. Congress, or 44 percent, are millionaires.
"What's easy to see is that the economic reality of our elected officials is not reflective of the general population," said Dave Levinthal, who helped compile the study's findings.
Nationwide, only 1 percent of U.S. citizens qualify as millionaires.
Among the wealthiest members of Congress are Darrell Issa, R-Calif., whose net worth is estimated at $251 million, and Jane Harman, D-Calif., who boasts a net worth of around $244.7 million.
A slight majority of those elected to Congress are not millionaires. And some of the least well-off members include Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., and Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., both of whose net worth is less than zero, according to the RCP database.
By compiling financial disclosure statements and public tax records, the Center for Responsive Politics was also able to examine the investment holdings of elected officials.
In 2008, the same year that the federal government bailed out several U.S. banks, the second most commonly held stock among members of Congress was Bank of America, the data showed. Other popular bank stocks included Wells Fargo, Citi Group and Goldman Sachs, all of which received congressionally approved funds.
And as Congress continues to work on the issue of health care reform, Levinthal noted that industry-related stocks were also commonly held by many on Capitol Hill.
"Pfizer was the sixth most commonly held stock in 2008, for instance," Levinthal said. "Oftentimes, members of Congress are heavily invested in companies who will be affected by decisions the federal government makes."
There's more at the link. The Center for Responsive Politics' Web site provides more detailed information.
Of course, I have no objection whatsoever to a member of Congress or a Senator earning a lot of money through his or her hard work. Rep. Darrell Issa, mentioned in the Sphere article as the wealthiest member of the House of Representatives, amassed his fortune by hard work and innovative design in the electronics field, and I don't begrudge him a penny of it. However, many of his peers inherited family money, or found jobs through political patronage to pay them huge salaries while doing little or nothing to justify them (something like President Obama's wife and her $300,000-plus 'patronage' job with the University of Chicago Hospitals, which was cut as soon as she no longer needed it).
Hmm. Perhaps we should consider a law that no-one may stand for Congress whose net worth is greater than a certain figure? It might ensure that we get Representatives who at least understand what it is to have to earn a living!