Millionaires in Congress: a ruling elite?

When our constitution was ratified, it was never the intent of the founders that serving in Congress be a career pursuit. It was George Mason who said,

Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interests of his constituents that the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people from whence he was taken where he can participate in their burdens.

But according to a story last week in Politico, congressional service appears to be not only a career pursuit but a lucrative one as well.

A majority of the members of Congress are millionaires for the first time in history, according to a new analysis. At least 268 of the 534 current Hill lawmakers had a net worth of more than $1 million in 2012, according to a Center for Responsive Politics examination of financial disclosures. In addition, the median net worth of congressional members topped $1 million, up from $966,000 last year.

Before you point the finger at rich Republicans, I hate to tell you Democrats actually had a slightly higher net worth. Senators led members of the House with a median net worth of $2.7 million versus only $896,000 for the “lower house.”

The real point is this: do (and can) these people represent the average American? I have nothing against financial success, but when it comes to making the laws for the nation, is this ruling elite living under the same laws and do the laws have the same effect upon them?

Further it has become increasingly difficult for an average American to run for federal office. The resources required to mount a political campaign are immense.

In my first campaign for Congress in 2008, after returning form my assignment as a civilian-military advisor to the Afghan Army, I was asked by the National Republican Congressional Committee Executive Director, “how much money can you self-fund?” Obviously, this person had no idea what a 22-year-career in the military and two and a half years in Afghanistan meant financially.

So I pose the question, has political office in America truly become an elitist playground? I don’t believe this has always been the case — especially for the House of Representatives. Is it possible to have a “Mr./Ms. Smith goes to Washington” story today?

Politics in America is now a huge business, with some people generating staggering amounts of gross income. Unfortunately it is also costing the average American more debt, depressed wages, fewer opportunities for full time employment, and an uncertain future.

43 COMMENTS

  1. I would love a break down with the names and what they are worth, showing everyone the true amounts would say more than anything. Not that anyone would believe it either but it would not just be saying dems have more money….

    • Bill, Janet.When they all live in glass houses, no one dares to throw the first stone. It’s a form of insurance. It’s called, the glass wall of silence.

  2. How did they all, (ALL) amass these fortunes ? I’m not sure, but I can tell you this, they didn’t earn it by working long hard hours.

  3. Term Limits, no retirement, no benefits after their term. No laws for them that do not apply to the people or put another way. No laws that apply to the people that don’t apply to politicians.

  4. They shouldn’t decide on when and how much their raises are either! They are to represent the people, so the same rules should apply to them. Since the government robbed Social Security from those of us who paid into it, they should donate their monies and bring it back up to what was taken out. If the IRS can throw lavish conferences, then there are monies to pay BACK to Social Security!

  5. Make Congress a volunteer position and restrict income from appearances, book, and movie signings while in office. No retirement pay. We wouldn’t have to worry about term limits.

  6. If I had insider trading legal for me, I also could be a millionaire! It should be illegal for them as well. All of them are crooks. Period!

  7. Those figures are actually lower than I expected. Two decades ago virtually everyone there was a millionaire and this same issue of representation was raised. Obviously not a lick was done to solve it.

    The caveat is, to drop your job or business and go serve in the legislature and then have to go back to work later for many people is a very huge burden and hurdle. IE, I have a career position as skilled labor, to walk away from that would be akin to financial suicide for someone who is a wage worker.

    • It is a huge conflict of interest to vote for your own pay raise. We the People deserve that right and privilege of voting for what our representatives should earn for representing us. What they’re doing is representing them selves.

  8. No there is no way and average person could serve. Sometimes I think that these offices should be like the draft, everyone must take a turn and truly ” serve” their country.

  9. No one but a very wealthy person can run for office. The elitist who are in Washington are so out of touch with the life and problems of the average citizen, they no longer represent us. That is one of the reasons our nation is in such a dire situation.

  10. I’d say that successful people in the private economy are just the type of persons we need to represent us in Congress. No more incompetents like the zero in the Oval Office during this regime.

  11. This manifestation of a political ‘Elite Ruling Class’ is the biggest reason that we need Term Limits!!! No huge pension! No elitist special health care! No special check bouncing exemptions! No legal insider trading fraud! No huge expense account! No huge severance! The founding fathers meant for our politicians to serve their country, do their time, and go home!

  12. NO because the rich make the laws, and those laws suit their interest. The rest of us have to follow those laws or risk prosecution, even if one of them break the law they do not suffer the same punishment.

  13. LTC West: You have the support. If you were to run for higher office, I don’t think anyone would be stupid enough to ask the question of “how much can you self-fund?” We, The People will put you there by supporting you, as it should be. No prob!! We only ask that you remain Steadfast and Loyal !

  14. I am afraid you , again, are spot on. Turly the elite in Congress are quickly becoming out of touch with the constituents they claim to represent. With the power to give themselves raises, why leave? This is wrong on many accounts. Complaining is doing a bit of good either. Term limits are needed fast. Always a West supporter. Thank you for speaking out for us. Just wish more were listening.

  15. Actually, what’s quite amazing here, is that people with relatively few assets– $1M is *nothing* today– can be members of the legislature.
    Being a mlllionaire is out of touch? O C’mon. Tell that to the farmer down the street from us in rural Kentucky, who, you know, chose to invest and save and drive a beat-up pickup truck instead of a new car.

  16. “The 5000 Year Leap” explains this very well. Fantastic book that should be taught in all the schools alongside the indoctrination so prevalent. Political Parties are no more than Unions and work mainly to hold onto their seats for a lifetime.

  17. Now, there’s one thing you might have noticed I don’t complain about:
    politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they
    suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They
    don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from
    another reality. They come from American parents and American families,
    American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses
    and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens.
    This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s
    what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish,
    ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term
    limits ain’t going to do any good; you’re just going to end up with a
    brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe,
    it’s not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around
    here… like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There’s a nice
    campaign slogan for somebody: The Public Sucks. ***k Hope–George Carlin

    • You were doin’ pretty good until you started gettin’ vulgar. Hope you’ll consider posting more, but cleanin’ it up. Thanks.

      • What Ellie and some others don’t seem to understand is the fact that you can’t be nice to politicians they will only take advantage of you, and so will the Obama drones. Your post wasn’t vulgar you used stars for most of one word. Certain segments of the public don’t care how they are being used just as long as they are getting something for nothing, too many citizens expect to be taken care of from cradle to the grave, and therin lies the problem. Your post hit home, and I have a word or two for Ellie, as I am writing this the politico’s are at work scheming to cut your Social Security benefits, if you are a senior beware of the establishment guru’s.

  18. Together we can Restore our great Nation. Get involved right now!
    Membership is free. Join the fastest growing grassroots movement… TEA Party Patriots.

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