It will, or should, come as no surprise that as a result of the Great Financial Crisis, just as in real life, so in D.C., the wealthiest politicians have gotten wealthier: in fact at least 72 politicos have doubled their wealth in the past 5 years. It will, or should, also come as no surprise, that as a result of the GFC, the average wealth of Republicans (which declined) and Democrats (which rose) has converged, confirming that at least when it comes to the economic disparity between America's two big parties, there is no longer any difference. At least these are the findings of a recent WaPo study looking at how America's lawmakers have benefited from the laws they themselves institute. In other words, while America's laws may be designed for its people, those who actually benefit from this country's fiscal (and of course monetary) policy is just one group: those who continue to transfer wealth from what little is left of the middle class and into their own, mostly offshore, bank accounts.
From the WaPo: "You would find that, contrary to many popular perceptions, lawmakers don’t get rich by merely being in Congress. Rich people who go to Congress, though, keep getting richer while they’re there." We are fairly confident that there were no "popular perceptions" that anyone goes to Congress to get wealthy. Congress, and certainly the Senate, are merely vehicles to allow those with power and money to simply perpetuate a status quo that benefits the 1% and takes, what little is left, from everyone else. And sadly, this theft transcends political lines and ideological colors. In short: everyone is doing it, even as America continues to delude itself there is an option. There is none.
For the complete matrix of just who steals from you, dear Americans, click below.
Other WaPo findings:
The wealthiest one-third of lawmakers were largely immune from the Great Recession, taking the fewest financial hits and watching their investments quickly recover and rise to new heights. But more than 20 percent of the members of the current Congress — 121 lawmakers — appeared to be worse off in 2010 than they had been six years earlier, and 24 saw their reported wealth slide into negative territory.
Most members weathered the financial crisis better than the average American, who saw median household net worth drop 39 percent from 2007 to 2010. The median estimated wealth of members of the current Congress rose 5 percent during the same period, according to their reported assets and liabilities. The wealthiest one-third of Congress gained 14 percent.
The Post also found that some congressional financial interests intersected with public actions taken by legislators: 73 lawmakers sponsored or co-sponsored legislation that could have benefitted businesses or industries in which either they or their families were involved or invested.
Among the other findings is perhaps this key one: "The estimated wealth of Republicans was 44 percent higher than Democrats in 2004, but that disparity has virtually disappeared." In other words, when it comes to wealth, and thanks to the crisis, which made some Republicans poorer as it made some Democrats richer, America now has only one party: those who do not represent the people, but merely those who will do everything to preserve their own wealth.
And as noted above, the richest just get richer and richer:
- Between 2004 and 2010, 72 lawmakers appeared to have doubled their estimated wealth.
At least 150 lawmakers reported receiving more income from outside jobs and investments than from their congressional salaries of $174,000 for rank-and-file members.
- Representatives in 2010 had a median estimated wealth of $746,000; senators had $2.6 million.
- Since 2004, lawmakers reported more than 3,500 outside jobs paying their spouses more than $1,000 a year. The lawmakers are not required to report how much the spouses are paid or what they did for the money.
- Lawmakers’ wealth is held in a variety of ways: 127 primarily in real estate, 117 in institutional funds, 75 in their spouses’ names, 51 in essentially cash, 36 in specific stocks and bonds, 32 in high-turnover trading, 30 in business ownership and 20 in agriculture. More than 40 had reported assets of $25,000 or less.
Those wishing to learn how America's representative government continues to die a slow and painful (for most, if not all) death, can read on here.