Your New Congressmen Are Richer Than Pretty Much Everyone You Know

A new report details just how wildly wealthy our freshman senators and congresspeople are.

As many Americans struggle to provide even the most basic necessities for themselves—one recent survey found that nearly half of black seniors had struggled to pay their electric bills in the past year—you might be surprised to know that our new elected officials are not only better off, but absolutely flush with cash.

Not only is every single freshman senator and congressperson guaranteed employment for at least the next two years, and thus protected from America's persistent double-digit unemployment, none of them really needs their $174,000-plus (party leaders make more) annual salary anyway.

According to a new report from the Center for Responsive Politics, 60 percent of Senate freshman and 40 percent of House freshman are millionaires. Beyond that, the median wealth for Senate freshmen is $3.96 million; the House freshman median is $570,418.

For reference, the median household income (PDF) for every American in 2008 was $50,303, or less than one-quarter of one percent of the cumulative wealth of the 112th Congress's freshman class, $533.1 million.

When considering these numbers, also consider that millionaires make up just one percent of the entire United States population, while a full 44 percent of Senators and Representatives have seven-figure fortunes. Does it make sense that the richest of our citizens claim to speak for all of us in Washington? Does it make sense that we elected them in the first place? Are these people worthy of the title "representative" if they appear to not represent the common American in any way at all?

One last thing worth nothing: Besides being full of the super-rich, the U.S. Senate now contains not a single African American.


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