Congress

The People's Work Is Profitable

Most members of Congress are millionaires.

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If you were concerned that the country's economic doldrums might be injuring the incomes of the people's representatives, fear no longer. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that

Nice work if you can get it.

For the first time in history, most members of Congress are millionaires, according to a new analysis of personal financial disclosure data by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Of 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012, according to disclosures filed last year by all members of Congress and candidates. The median net worth for the 530 current lawmakers who were in Congress as of the May filing deadline was $1,008,767—an increase from the previous year when it was $966,000. In addition, at least one of the members elected since then, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), is a millionaire, according to forms she filed as a candidate….

[C]ongressional Democrats had a median net worth of $1.04 million, while congressional Republicans had a median net worth of almost exactly $1 million. In both cases, the figures are up from last year, when the numbers were $990,000 and $907,000, respectively.

Welcome to the Senate.

The median net worth for all House members was $896,000—that's up from $856,000 in 2011—with House Democrats (median net worth: $929,000) holding an edge over House Republicans (median net worth: $884,000). The median net worth for both House Republicans and Democrats was higher than in 2011.

Similarly, the median net worth for all senators increased to $2.7 million from $2.5 million, but in that body it was the Republicans who were better-off. Senate Democrats reported a median net worth of $1.7 million (a decline from 2011's $2.4 million), compared to Senate Republicans, at $2.9 million (an increase from $2.5 million).

The broader Washington area is doing pretty well too. Or at least the parts that contain the people who run the country and the people who lobby or contract with them.

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  1. [C]ongressional Democrats had a median net worth of $1.04 million, while congressional Republicans had a median net worth of almost exactly $1 million.

    How about: No salary or benefits for congresscreatures.

    “Where else do you get to see shit like this? I *love* this job.”

    1. As I suspected, they’re not even good with their own money. Since most of them are highly paid lawyers, they should have accumulated more than 1.0 million by now.

  2. I applaud the early Bloom County.

  3. Great Bloom County reference, Jesse. We need more. In fact, there is probably a Bloom County panel applicable to almost any article written on H&R. I just wish I had all my Bloom County comic books digitized for easy search and linkage.

  4. I’d love to take this report and shove it down the throat of every retarded OWS idiot bitching about the “1%”.

    1. You don’t understand. For some reason too sophisticated for us fools to understand, being the “1%” doesn’t apply to our political masters.

      1. They didn’t get rich by dirty capitalism. They got rich by noble plunder.

        1. The landholding aristocracy doesn’t come by its wealth via dirty, grubby (spit) trade like the commoner merchants with their jumped-up lifestyles.

          1. Silly me, I forgot for a second that those fuckers don’t argue in good faith anyways and they would of course say pretty much exactly what you and sarc did.

            1. What’s really funny is that if you think about it, anti-free-market retards have virtually the same attitude as feudal aristocracy: actual voluntary trade and profit is dirty and grubby and ignoble. It’s so much better when landed elites control everything.

              1. I somehow doubt a movement that centered on occupying private property believe landed elites controlling everything is a good idea.

                1. I somehow doubt a movement that centered on occupying private property believe landed elites controlling everything is a good idea.

                  Talk about missing the point. But that seems to be what you do.

                  The point was that the OWS tards who despise capitalists owning everything likely wouldn’t have as much of a problem with noble people in government owning everything. My goodness you’re dense.

                  1. New Tulpa doesn’t get points, sarcasmic. He makes them.

                    1. New Tulpa

                      Yeah. A turd by any other name still smells like shit.

                  2. If that were the point, then why all this talk about “anti-free-market retards have virtually the same attitude as feudal aristocracy: actual voluntary trade and profit is dirty and grubby and ignoble. It’s so much better when landed elites control everything?”

                    They virtually the same attitude, that it is so much better when landed elites control everything, but what was really meant is they are fine with an enriched political class?

                    1. I know what he meant. He knows what he meant. Most other people who read that will know what he meant. The fact that you don’t means the problem is you.

                    2. Yes of course, forgive me, I totally see know how when someone writes that ‘anti-free-market retards have virtually the same attitude as feudal aristocracy: actual voluntary trade and profit is dirty and grubby and ignoble. It’s so much better when landed elites control everything” they clearly, clearly did not mean to say the retards thought landed elites should control everything. I am sorry I interrupted the hippie flogging, certainly no one deserves it like they do! Might I add that they are essentially Hitler Youth who hate their own failures and project their hatred outward onto all people good and true?

                    3. “You got your unintelligible on my idiotic!”

                      “You got your idiotic on my unintelligible!”

                      “Two great retardations retard great together. New Tulpa(R)!”

                    4. First, the enriched political class ARE analogous to the landed elites of old.

                      Second, the virtually same attitude is the “actual voluntary trade and profit is dirty and grubby and ignoble.”. You can tell cause there was a period at the end of the sentence following the colon.

                  3. Don’t sarc, please! I don’t watch another thread go down the toilet… just don’t engage!

                    1. Oh, OK, so we do not get our Swiss Servator upset, let me rephrase:

                      Of course Episiarch, you are absolutely correct, those OWSer progs are just like the landed nobility! They also drink baby blood and spit on copies of Mises’ Nation, State and Economy!

                    2. Holy shit you’re stupid. And you just. Keep. Making. Sure. We. All. Know. It.

                    3. No, Episiarch, do not go easy on those OWSers on my account! Their support for the rule of landed nobility is so well known I can not believe I mistook your statement to that effect otherwise! I hate them too, for all the reasons you do!

                    4. Holy shit you’re stupid. And you just. Keep. Making. Sure. We. All. Know. It.

                      He is Ferrous Cranus.

                      http://www.politicsforum.org/i…..ame_62.php

                      Link isn’t working for me for some reason.

                2. I somehow doubt a movement that centered on occupying private property believe landed elites controlling everything is a good idea.

                  Sure they do. Just replace “landed elites” with “government”. Who do you think the elites in the US are?

                  1. No, Zeb. Don’t explain it to him. Let him miss the incredibly obvious point continuously so that we can all gaze in wonder at how dumb he is.

                    1. This is like a middle school play-yard. “No Zeb, do not talk to him, he is not one us cool ones! He just does not get it!”

                      Seriously, what kind of grown person would take the time to write something like this?

                    2. So New Tulpa, has your Asperger’s Syndrome been diagnosed yet, or does your mom merely suspect at this point?

                    3. It is funny you would invoke Aspergers, since I think the way you curse out total strangers for having the temerity to disagree with you on an online discussion board would be a bit more symptomatic of that, no?

                    4. Do you really think that’s why everyone hates you, New Tulpa? You’re even dumber than I thought.

                    5. I think in every place cliques form, and what a clique really hates is when someone disagrees with one of them, especially one that is seen as an outspoken and ‘hilariously outrageous’ member of the group. Wagons get circled and everyone tries to one up themselves in juvenile attacks on the outside guy who ‘just does not get it.’ There does not have to be any substance to the attacks, so you can just call him ‘stupid’ or some variant or pick some irrelevant characteristic to laugh about (he’s young, must be a virgin!).

                      In a previous one of these flurries (also started by a disagreement with something Episiarch said interestingly) I asked what people were getting out of this type of culture here. It is easy to see other libertarian and political discussion boards do not operate this way. One person offered that since so few media sources are friendly to libertarians that people here want a safe, friendly environment to express themselves. I think that is correct for a lot here, but come on, that is the kind of thing that if you read on one of the sites you guys regularly attack it would be seen as pathetic and sad.

                    6. I mean, seriously Warty, do you see grown people on other sites or in other places where adults who actually do not know each other (like workplaces or classrooms) act like that? Someone makes a comment and another disagrees politely, only to be met with ‘you are stupid’ and then, worse, ‘hey, do not try to explain it to that guy, he will never get it.’

                      I saw a lot of that in my childhood, but not as an adult. No wonder the people who created this board like Ms. Postrel shake their head in dismay at what it has become if this is the preferred culture.

                    7. Oh my god. I really hurt your feelings. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

                    8. Again, that is pretty juvenile. The all caps, repetitive laughter is a nice touch too.

                    9. We don’t make fun of you because we disagree with you. We make fun of you because you’re more dense than depleted uranium.

                    10. Let me help you sarcasmic.

                      Go outside your little clique here to people who know about politics but do not necessarily hold your ideas. Tell them that the OCCUPY movement are just like the aristocracy and think it would be great if landed elites controlled everything.

                      You might get some all caps laughter directed at you there, but likely just some slightly raised eyebrows and a change of subject.

                    11. Of course, when they react to you like that, feel free to tell them they are idiots that really can not see how when you said it would be great if landed elites controlled everything you really, and obviously, meant political elites and not landed elites at all. I am sure that will smooth it right over.

                    12. Let me try to help you Bo.

                      Tell them that the OCCUPY movement are just like the aristocracy and think it would be great if landed elites controlled everything.

                      That’s not what Epi, or any of the many people who tried to clarify, said.

                      That’s what make you amusing in your pathetic little way. You repeat things back to show that you understand, but you get it completely wrong which shows that you don’t understand. Then when you insist that what you said is what the other person really meant, you look like a complete and utter fool.

                      It’s not about disagreeing. It’s about you not getting it. Ever. On anything.

                      hth, loser

                    13. the OCCUPY movement are just like the aristocracy…

                      This is the part you got wrong in the first place, but you’re apparently too dense to go back and read what was actually said.

                    14. Are you fucking retarded? Episiarch didn’t say they were “just like the aristocracy”. He said they shared the same ideas. And since they DID actually espouse the Government (read landed elites) controlling everything (starting with the banks and other financial firms on Wall Street), that statement is completely factual. Jesus, Mary and Joseph my you are dense.

                    15. OK, DesigNate, Brandon and Sacrasmic, here is Episiarch’s exact quote:

                      “anti-free-market retards have virtually the same attitude as feudal aristocracy: actual voluntary trade and profit is dirty and grubby and ignoble. It’s so much better when landed elites control everything.”

                      Brandon and sarcasmic have no real point except (ironically in sarc’s case) to just repeat that I got it wrong. So there is the quote. Where did I get it wrong? It is so simple, so obvious surely you can do it. What is that line at the end all about?

                      As for Designate, you kind of give up the game when you say ‘read landed elites’.

                    16. Landed elites in feudal times were the equivalent of today’s political class.

                      Up until just a few centuries ago, if someone had vast wealth it was fair to assume it was acquired by plunder of some sort.

                      Market capitalists acquire their wealth by producing something of value and trading with voluntary customers, or in the case of Wall Street by moving capital from unproductive (unprofitable) enterprises to productive (profitable) use. They grow the pie rather than forcefully seizing a slice.

                      Yet many OWS lefttards get it backwards. They see capitalists as plunderers, and they look up to the political class. They want the political class (landed elites) to control everything because they see the capitalists as the plunderers and naively believe that public servants actually serve the public.

                      So they (unwittingly perhaps) support a feudal aristocracy where the landed elites (political class) control everything.

                      Now I expect you to repeat that back in an attempt to me to show that you understand, while getting it completely wrong and in fact showing that you don’t understand a damn thing.

                    17. How the hell does that “give up the game”?

                    18. I think the way you curse out total strangers for having the temerity to disagree with you

                      Haaaaaa ha ha ha ha! You still don’t get it! What a fucking loser! Haaaaaa ha ha ha!

                    19. “Haaaaaa ha ha ha!”

                      “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA”

                      Yep, no juvenile ‘circle jerk’ here! You guys might want to at the least get together and vary up your puerility is you are trying to not to come off as a juvenile clique.

                    20. Run away little boy! Run away!

                    21. Again, what grown person talks like this?

                  2. If you have to replace the key phrase with another to make it right…

                    1. Bo, what you fail to understand is that feudalism didn’t rhetorically support itself by saying, “It’s great when a few people own everything and their assets can never be attached for debt and everyone else is dirt!”

                      It rhetorically supported itself by saying that the sovereign owned everything on behalf of everyone else, and lent that property out in ways that ensured that its users would serve the common good, and give everyone a valuable social role in keeping with the Great Chain of Being.

                      And that the enemies of this system were rootless scavengers and profiteers with no blood or soil connection to the community, who cared for no one but themselves.

                      It was VERY similar to rhetoric used by the OWS crowd, actually.

                    2. Look, if you want to say that pushing the anti-capitalism and pro-government ideas that were found in the OWS movement (but I would argue were not always dominant) leads to a result much like feudalism in that the political elite become like the landed elite for feudalism, then fine.

                      But that is not what he said. He said they virtually shared the same idea with the aristocracy, that profit seeking behavior is grubby and landed elites should control everything. I think that is about as bizarre of a statement you can make for a group which was defined in its moniker and tactics by its opposition to power-through-land (property).

                      Not only is this literally wrong and a rhetorical disaster, it also implies that this is the intention of the OWSers rather than an unintended consequence (with that I agree), which unnecessarily demonizes them.

              2. One SF series refers to them as “neo-feudalists.”

            2. You can’t expect people who see theft as a virtue to be honest.

              1. I was an undergraduate when OWS got started, and we had an ‘occupation’ going on near where my school. I knew some of the people in it and walked down to talk to a few I did not every know and then. Not all of these people were socialists, a lot were mad at government and focused on what they saw as crony capitalism. The thing that made them the most mad was the bailouts. Some of them were quite receptive to what I had to say, I lent one of them some Rothbard and another some Mises. OWS, like the Tea Party, was an opportunity, not some devilish group wishing we were ruled by unrestrained, wealthy political masters.

                1. I was an undergraduate when OWS got started

                  Oh god you’re a fucking child. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

                  1. That makes sense. Bo, you’re a virgin, right? It’s OK. Don’t feel ashamed.

      2. It also doesn’t apply to the OWS kids, many of whom had trust funds.

    2. We are the 99%!!!!!

    3. I do no think the Occupy Wall Street protestors were big fans of wealthy, well connected political elites so I imagine throwing this into their faces would do little, unless you took the time to explain to them how their policies would naturally empower politicians to be in a point where they could enrich themselves.

      1. Their support for Mr. Hopey Changey contradicts your claim.

        1. Did they support him? Everyone I talked to that affiliated with it saw him as a corporatist sell out.

          1. “I don’t know anyone who voted for Nixon.”

          2. More than half of them supported the bank bailouts. They were only pissy because they didn’t get a bailout.

            Whiny little whores, bitching about their student loans for “retard studies” and the cost of the Macbooks, but not bothering to mention poverty in Africa.

      2. That’s funny, cause the main ones in New York and LA didn’t bother to make that distinction.

        The one’s here in Dallas were mostly of the ‘Ron Paul, End the Fed’ variety. But that was most definitely not the main strain of it.

        1. So the one strain you actually had real access to is not the one you think was the ‘main strain,’ but rather the ones you read about in the press? I am betting on most other issues you find the press’ accounts to be less than fully trustworthy.

          1. That strain didnt even garner more than 15 people on any given day. It was nothing like tent city.

            And while I don’t trust the media, I do believe my ears when I hear the retarded demands straight from the horses mouth.

  5. Sacrifice pays.

  6. I hope you aren’t trying to establish some sort of causal link, here, Shirley.

    Because it’s preposterous to think holding an elected office with great power and influence over the economy might put one in an advantaged position.

    1. Not to mention immunity from insider trading laws.

  7. For some reason too sophisticated for us fools to understand, being the “1%” doesn’t apply to our political masters.

    “It’s not profit when it comes from the government.”

    1. “It’s not profit when it comes to the government.”

  8. I’m rich, I tells ya! RICH!!

    The best game in town is to be a sub contractor with just a couple employees. All you need is a connection here or there at one of the Big Boy companies and a coupla foreign friends willing to make a quick buck in a technology sweatshop setting, and you just sit back and collect 1/2 their salaries.

    1. It is no coincidence that high level management at defense contractors happen to be retired military brass.

      1. Or retired civilian brass-equivalent. SOP seems to be:

        1. Work until you have enough service to retire.
        2. Return for a few years as a “retired annuitant”, now receiving both a pension and a paycheck.
        3. Retire again and go to work for a contractor with business before your former agency.

        1. #3 is too hard and involves shit like going into an office. The key is to make your scratch off of others’ backs.

          1. #3 doesn’t involve real work on contracts. It involves going into your old offices, schmoozing with your friends who haven’t retired yet and getting “new” business for your employer. Plenty of golf and 2 hour lunches are involved too.

          2. #3 is too hard and involves shit like going into an office.

            My defense contractor employer’s upper management are all retired admirals and generals. The brag about being able to “walk through doors.”

            1. And I wish I could have every one of them hung from a yardarm or a nearby tree.

              General’s stars (or Admiral’s stripes) seem to turn many people into monsters.

              1. General’s stars (or Admiral’s stripes) seem to turn many people into monsters.

                Really? I always thought it was the other way around. As in you’ve got to be a monster to be invited into the club.

                1. I have seen guys who were colonels and you’d quite enthusiastically jump in a dragon’s mouth for them…..they put stars on, and all the sudden you hope they choke to death on a bean burrito.

                  I cannot believe they were monsters for 20+ years and hid it. Some complete turds manage to polish the apple and climb over the broken bodies and careers of their peers into flag rank, but it is an odd and terrible thing I have seen far too many times otherwise.

    2. Yes. I believe my five year plan includes getting myself on the state of FL approved IT contractor list and doing just that.

      1. There’s an approved list?

        1. Of course there’s an approved list. If you’re going to pass taxpayer dollars to corporate cronies you don’t want to disguise it in any way. That would be unethical!

        2. Yup. Part of Jeb’s misguided reforms. It was supposed to root out people hiring their idiot cousins to IT contracts, which in the early 2000s were incomprehensible to most state agency heads anyway. It was never, ever used as a filter to guarantee that only the rich and connected got contracts. Never. But I know enough people now to get myself on the list. Just need 2 more years to pad the resume and I’m good.

  9. I’m not even going to bother looking at a study that reports nominal rather than real figures.

  10. There’s a market for government influence, and someone has to fill it.

    1. Market failure!!!

  11. It will never happen but there ought to be a post government service tax. Whenever someone leaves government service for the next ten years they are taxed at a 100% marginal rate for all income over the greater number of $250K or their average income for the previous five years before they entered government service adjusted for inflation. In addition, there would be a 100% tax on all increases in net worth, not the result of family inheritance or gambling winnings, that occurred during the time the person was in government service above $250K plus inflation and the treasury rate for the time they were in government service.

    That way, no one could cash in on government service for more than 250K a year. No more going to Congress, writing laws, and then making millions helping industry dodge them.

    1. Something like this might work to some extent. I’m sure they’d come up with some way around this, though.

      1. Deferred compensation. They’d work for $249k for 5 years and get a balloon payment in year 6.

  12. I understand it’s a joke to have representatives who are millionaires proclaiming to be fighting for the middle class or average Joe Sixpack (thanks Mr. Bruns), but I don’t really think a 50+ (and the median age is probably closer to 60) year old having a net worth of $1MM is really that big a deal.

    1. True. Being a millionaire in the latter part of your life is not all that remarkable these days. Probably doesn’t even put you in the top 1%.

      1. You might be surprised. The number of people who have no savings at all is terrifying.

        1. Got curious, so I looked it up.

          Apparently having 1,000,000 puts you in the 3rd percentile of 45-54 year olds. But then, a significant number of CongressCritters are under 40.

          1. And a number are over 54.

        2. If you’re close to 60 and don’t have at least a mil saved in retirement accounts — you’re screwed.
          Most Americans won’t have nearly that much saved.
          Both statements are true.

          1. Also, if you have close to a mil saved in a retirement account, the government will certainly find some way to “redistribute” your “excess savings.” So you’re screwed.

            1. Unless you’re a congressperson.

            2. The day they decide to touch my 401k or IRA is the day I … I don’t know, break down and cry maybe.

              1. That is when I finally hoist the Jolly Roger, load the rifle and say “enough”. Maybe I can go out live on TV!

          2. Yep. According to that link, only a few percent of 60 year-olds have 7 figures saved. The rest will depend heavily on entitlement programs.

          3. Retirement accounts will be looted at some point. The government just needs too much fucking money to leave a huge, juicy asset like that alone.

            My prediction: You will be forced to invest a certain percentage (which will undoubtedly increase over time) into some form of Treasuries. After the conversion/forced investment, the govt will have your assets and you will have an IOU from them.

            1. I am assuming the same thing. There’s all that money, just sitting there, selfishly. The Treasuries investment thing is a good guess. I could also see something as crazy as the government forcing a “loan” from taxpayers from their retirement accounts, with a promise of “market equal interest” as a return for the loan.

              1. Nah, they’ll just use it to guarantee the money like the IMF did in Cyprus. But since we know they can’t contain themselves, it will just be a straight transfer to our creditors.

        1. I want to be “touched by a liquidity event.”

          1. Or by Scarlett Johansson. That’d work, too.

            1. You’re sure you don’t want to give her a liquidity event?

            2. That would cause the “liquidity event” yes?

  13. I wonder what role campaign finance laws have played in this. In my neck of the woods, we get a lot of people running for office that made a fortune during the tech boom of the 90’s. They are rich enough to finance most of their campaigns. If some middle class slob tried to run against them, they would have to solicit thousands of tiny donations. But hey, these laws protect us from some rich puppet master owning a congressman, right?

    1. The campaign finance laws made so no one is not independently wealthy or from a political family with a lot of fund raising connections can run for office.

      1. Exactly. Its just astonishing the degree of accuracy displayed by these goo-goo proggy policies. They invariably hit the bulls-eye that is 180 degrees opposite of their announced purpose.

        “We have to remove the influence of Big Money from politics.” Becomes “You have to be either rich yourself or beholden to the rich to get elected.”

      2. In fairness to people who support campaign finance laws, they almost to a person oppose Buckley v. Valeo as well.

        1. In fairness to people who support campaign finance laws, they almost to a person oppose Buckley v. Valeo as well.

          Ok – so you fairly explained that they believe the idea that the US government should be allowed to prevent individuals from spending their money to spread political ideas – which is beyond self-defeating. & since basic, rational survival instincts preclude suicide, this idea is just stupid.

          But I assume you didn’t intend that comment to only be read as confirming a groups’ stupidity, but I cannot seem to figure out what you meant. I’m honestly interested – what exactly was the point?

  14. I see the Grand Inquisitor of Libertarianism has arrived to clarify our view of the One True Path.

    1. Yes, in not talking about libertarianism at all I was being the Grand Inquisitor of Libertarianism!

  15. “We have to remove the influence of Big Money from politics.” Becomes “You have to be either rich yourself or beholden to the rich to get elected.”

    Let’s not forget how campaign finance laws help provide an impenetrable bulwark for incumbents.

  16. “…If you were concerned that the country’s economic doldrums might be injuring the incomes of the people’s representatives,…”

    “The median net worth for the 530 current lawmakers who were in Congress as of the May filing deadline was $1,008,767…”

    Is it too much to ask that Reason writers not confuse income and wealth?

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