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Tue November 1, 2011
Report: Congress Got Richer In 2010
Roll Call, a newspaper that specializes on reporting from Capitol Hill, digs through the personal financial disclosure forms of elected officials every couple of years to look at trends in the aggregate.
In its analysis of this year's data, it found that "members of Congress had a collective net worth of more than $2 billion in 2010, a nearly 25 percent increase over the 2008 total..."
According to financial disclosure forms filed by Members of Congress this year, the minimum net worth in the House has jumped to $1.26 billion, and Senate net worth has climbed to at least $784 million, for a Congressional total of $2.04 billion.
And as protesters around the country decry the supposed consolidation of wealth in America, the trend can be seen starkly in Congress, a comparison suggested by American Enterprise Institute visiting scholar Mark Perry. The 50 richest Members of Congress accounted for 78 percent of the net worth in the institution in 2008 ($1.29 billion of the $1.65 billion total); by 2010 the share of the 50 richest had risen to 80 percent ($1.63 billion of the $2.04 billion total). The pie of Congressional wealth got bigger, and the richest Members are getting a bigger slice.
But there is still plenty to go around. Overall, 219 Members of Congress reported having assets worth more than $1 million last year; subtracting the minimum value of their liabilities brings the total number of millionaires in Congress down to 196 — again not counting any value on their homes or other non-income-producing property. If one were to assume that every Member of Congress has $200,000 worth of equity in real estate, the total number of millionaires would rise to 220 Members, just more than 40 percent of the Congress.
Roll Call reports it's hard to compare Congress to the general American population but the bottom line is that "the average member of Congress is far wealthier than the average U.S. household."
Roll Call's report is pretty comprehensive, but if you want to look into your own congress member's finances, OpenSecrets.org has an easy-to-navigate database with year-to-year numbers.
Let us know in the comments if you find something of interest in the records.