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Most Congress Members Are Now Millionaires (Who Don’t Want to Help the Poor)

Most Congress Members Are Now Millionaires (Who Don’t Want to Help the Poor)

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. What used to be a common colloquial phrase is now being lived out daily in the income inequity plaguing America. Stagnant wages, unemployment, productivity surges and low skilled and temp job growth has left the average worker struggling not to lose ground financially. One group appears to be doing better than ever, however, and that is our elected officials in Congress.

Congratulations, Senators and Representatives. Now over half of you are officially millionaires!

According to Open Secrets, which tracks money in politics: “Of 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012, according to disclosures filed last year by all members of Congress and candidates. The median net worth for the 530 current lawmakers who were in Congress as of the May filing deadline was $1,008,767 — an increase from the previous year when it was $966,000. In addition, at least one of the members elected since then, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), is a millionaire, according to forms she filed as a candidate. (There is currently one vacancy in Congress.)”

It’s an increase of 11 new millionaires over last year, when only 257 members of Congress crossed the $1 million mark.

While those who are in Congress continue to do well, or those who do well are running for Congress, how’s the rest of America doing? Well, we’re still struggling. As Think Progress notes, the gap between our elected officials and us is growing ever wider. The median net worth for an American in 2010 didn’t even crack $40,000.

“The stark disparity between the economic reality of lawmakers and their constituents may help to explain why Congress seems fixated on things that rich people care about while allowing programs for the poor to languish,” writes Think Progress’ Alan Pyke. “A study released over the summer concluded that while the U.S. Senate used to ignore poor peoples’ concerns in favor of upper- and middle-class interests, it now disregards the middle class as well and responds almost exclusively to rich peoples’ problems. That study refined previous work by other researchers that showed similar congressional tendencies to serve the rich and ignore the rest.”

Responding to the rich and ignoring the poor is one thing. Running for Congress for the purpose of trying to make things more difficult for those who are struggling? That’s just cruel. But that’s exactly what Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert claims was his own reason for seeking a run for higher office.

“If it weren’t for the policies in this War on Poverty declared 50 years ago, it may well be that I would not have ever run for Congress,” the Republican said on the floor last week, according to The New Civil Rights Movement. He claims he was motivated not by the plight of those less fortunate, but his utter conviction that there were single women having babies to get easy, free government money. “One women had had 15 kids, didn’t even know where they all were, that was the most that I ever dealt with. It began to really eat away with me that in the 60s the federal government, desiring to help poor moms who were dealing with deadbeat dads, decided, ‘We’ll help, we’ll give a check for every child you can have out of wedlock.’”

With so many of our elected officials literally unaware of the struggles of the average or financially struggling American, and some of them even admitting they were inspired to run not to provide a helping hand for those in need, but to dismantle the very programs created to assist the poor, it’s no wonder that congressional approval still remains at near record lows.

Perhaps on election day, we can remind them of who they are really in Congress to represent: the average voter. If they choose not to do so, then they should be replaced. After all, they have quite the financial cushion to protect them while they look for new jobs.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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145 comments

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6:58AM PST on Jan 31, 2014

Dale, I don't think they care although I agree with you that the politicians should swap with the homeless and let them experience. I wonder why they have the "wife swap" show, why not "politicians swap with homeless"?
This is a major problem with this nation and of course, the world over. Humans are greedy and never get enough, therefore, we have to support ourselves by neighbors helping neighbors with various jobs. e.g. your neighbor can do oil change and fix any mechanical problems while the other clean your house or mow your lawn. Official government only care for themselves how much their income is and or dig more into the poor people's pockets. SHAME!!!!!!!

1:34AM PST on Jan 30, 2014

We need to vote them all out and start over. Of course not all are bad, but they go to DC with good intentions and then get corrupted by the power and money. I believe the US is the greatest country on Earth but our government is out of control and it's gotten much worse in the last 5 years.

7:32AM PST on Jan 28, 2014

One sure fire way to ensure there are no good people in politics is to make broad general statements that they are all crooks, and to treat them as all being crooks, and by directing incredible rage at all of them...what good man or woman would willingly go into that kind of environment.
If you want good people in politics then you have to reward the good ones with recognition and appreciation, or at least reward them by not villifying them automatically because they are in politics.
My father used to say if you have the name you might as well have the game...that is if everyone is calling you a crook anyway, even though you are not and even though you have the best of intentions, then you might as well enjoy the spoils of your position....which you can do without being a crook.
Not one poster on here even addressed that it might be a problem overall if too many people exploit a program that was intended to help people, as the program can become a burden on everyone and have negative consequences for everyone if it is expoited too much. It seems that no matter how carefully a social program is crafted there will be many many people who will expoit it by figuring out ways to extract monies from the program in ways that it was never intended. This is a problem that needs to be addressed.
So...we have rich people taking money they dont deserve...and we have poor people taking money they dont deserve...maybe there is a widespread sense of entitlement.

8:17AM PST on Jan 24, 2014

this is not news to anyone who lives in America.....unemployment, foreclosures on homes,people living on the streets & shelters. does anyone really think they give a damn?

2:42PM PST on Jan 22, 2014

These people would flunk the "as ye have done to these, the least of my brethren, so ye have done also to me" test that Jesus Himself spoke of in the Gospel of Matthew!

1:02PM PST on Jan 21, 2014

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM#t=48


Seen THAT?

1:00PM PST on Jan 20, 2014

Oxfam reports that the world's 85 richest people have as much wealth as the poorest HALF of humans. http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/20/oxfam-85-richest-people-half-of-the-world?CMP=twt_gu

12:06PM PST on Jan 19, 2014

Where have YOU been? That's a given. They care about only one thing--money and power. They kow-tow to the sinister powers behind the government and corporate scene, and that's always how it's going to be unless the American people get smart and vote them out. Frankly, I'm not holding my breath.

11:52AM PST on Jan 19, 2014

The famed 1% seems to have increased dramatically thanks to Congress, how special is that?

MONKEY SEE MONKEY DO ... The Washington Bubble and its immediate and fast-growing prime real estate which houses private airports, gourmet restaurants, etc. is yet surrounded in stark contrast by outlying suburbs in need of REAL help. Enough accumulated bloat, this bubble must be popped and all relics (career politicians on the dole for a limitless number of years) released back into the real world from which they were hired and have now forgotten about. Too many have racked up and given back favors to keep them intact ... too bad so sad.

A call for term limits has been raised time and again without going anywhere, why would it? Perhaps in the 2014 elections we can handle this in our own way ... VOTE THEM OUT while we still have the power. Sounds good to me, how 'bout you

8:56PM PST on Jan 18, 2014

This is certainly a world wide trend where many of the politicians who run for office are very well off and often totally removed from the realities of how most people live their daily lives.

Perhaps some of the well off politicians should spend a month trading positions with some of the less well off citizenry to give them insight in how they have to live their lives.

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