For the first time in history, a majority of the members of Congress are millionaires. According to Open Secrets' analysis of financial disclosure data, 268 of 534 current members of Congress had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012. Open Secrets calls this "a watershed moment at a time when lawmakers are debating issues like unemployment benefits, food stamps and the minimum wage, which affect people with far fewer resources, as well as considering an overhaul of the tax code."
We've always known that certain members of Congress are wealthy. Rep. Darrell Issa, for example, had an average net worth of about $464 million in 2012. But now, even fewer representatives and senators can reasonably relate to the middle class, not to mention citizens living in poverty. For what it's worth, there are slightly more wealthy Democrats in Congress than Republicans. Congressional Dems' median net worth was $1.04 million in 2012; Republicans' was $1 million.
The poorest members of Congress are Rep. David Valdao, who's in debt due to loans for his family dairy farm, and Rep. Alcee Hastings, who's in debt over legal bills dating back to the 1980s.
Of course, most of congressional members' wealth comes from investments and book deals, not government salaries. As Open Secrets illustrates, GE is the most popular investment among congressional members.
Meanwhile, Congress has yet to reinstate benefits for the long-term unemployed, which lapsed just before the new year. The Senate may reach a deal today to extend benefits for 1.4 million Americans, Reuters reports.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.