Tuesday, December 27, 2011

'We're rich!' say our Congress members

Posted on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 12:08 PM

The big news over the weekend came from the New York Times and the Washington Post, both of which did big stories on the wealth gap between members of Congress and the people who elect them.

The gap, in a word, is GINORMOUS. They are nine times richer than the typical voter who elects them. They are part of the one percent.

The reasons for this gap are many, but it comes down to a couple of things, says the Times. First, running a campaign can be prohibitively expensive, thus chasing away the poorer fools who want to go to D.C. Second, members of Congress — surprise — have inside information and great connections. 

The richest member of the entire Congress is Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who is worth more than $220 million. But he is far from the only millionaire. Nearly half of Congress is made up of millionaires — 250 in all. (See a fancy graphic at The Atlantic.)

Of course, the context to all of this is the current push by conservatives to cut spending on social programs for the needy, and by liberals to put a heftier tax on millionaires. 

But where do Washington's elected officials fit in? Seattle Weekly crunched the numbers and figured out that our Congressional delegation is worth at least $10 million collectively.  

Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, tops the list. Not a shocker there, since she touted her private sector success when she first ran for Congress. She's worth more than $3 million. (Or as much as $7.5 million. Members don't have to give exact numbers of their wealth. Just a range.)

The second richest member of Congress from Washington is our very own Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican whose wealth spiked when she married Brian Rodgers. She could be worth as much as $2.2 million. 

The poorest member of the delegation is freshman Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Camas who once worked for McMorris Rodgers. Herrera Beutler listed assets at less than $15,000.

Give her some time in Congress. She'll be doing fine in no time. 

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