6 Shocking Facts About Our Super-Wealthy Congress

After only being in session one day, our nation’s 114th Congress received the lowest ratings in its history, according to a new poll conducted by the University Of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute. Only 8 percent of those surveyed approved of the job Congress was doing. Here are six outrageous facts about Congressional wealth, that may shed some light on why the average American and Congress just don’t see eye to eye.

The average member of congress is far wealthier than the average American.

1.  The average member of Congress has more wealth than 18 American households combined according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ latest analysis. That’s considering an average household median net worth of $56,355.

Look at it this way: If you moved into a new residential neighborhood, your U.S. Congressman or Senator would own every other house on the block. That’s 18 lawns, 54 rooms compared to your 3, etc. You get the idea, right? You wouldn’t want to go to that HOA meeting. That’s 18 votes against your one.

2. Not only does Congress have more wealth, but their wealth has risen from an average of around $800,000 in 2007, to over $1,000,000 in 2013. Compare this to the average growth of the American family, which has declined nearly one-third between this same time period. The average Senator’s net worth increased even more, going from $2.3 million to $2.8 million.

CRP’s Executive Director Sheila Krumholz had this to say:

At a time when income inequality is much debated, the representatives we choose are overwhelmingly affluent. Whether voters elect them because they are successful or because people of modest means do not run, or for other reasons, is unclear, but struggling Americans should not assume that their elected officials understand their circumstances.

To put it bluntly, don’t expect your congressman to understand your financial struggles at all, despite all their rhetoric.

3. Congress almost never has a bad year. The only year they didn’t see an increase in their wealth since opensecrets.org started tracking it, was in 2008 when the financial disaster hit everyone. Awww….*tear.* Maybe this is why we really had financial regulation that year.

4.  Congress is worth a combined $4.3 billion dollars when you add up the average value of all current 533 member’s financial statements.

This is the equivalent of 76,000 typical American households, and a $400 million dollar increase over the last Congressional filings made in 2012.

5. The most popular investment for members of Congress is real estate. The second most popular is in financial services companies, or their products. 

Here are the top 20 companies Congress likes to invest in. Note that the dollar values assigned to each company is per congressman. So, for example, the lowest amount that was invested in Wells Fargo by a single Congressman did not go below $2,720,032 whereas the most invested member had $6,306,113 of his money going to work there. That’s a lot of cash for one person. So, knowing which members of Congress are invested where, is very helpful. That being said, here at the companies Congress loves most:

AssetNumber of Members InvestedMinimum ValueMaximum Value
General Electric62$2,613,191$6,306,113
Wells Fargo58$2,720,032$6,462,965
Microsoft Corp53$2,655,864$6,538,787
Procter & Gamble52$8,388,831$35,698,769
Bank of America52$1,129,205$3,222,142
JPMorgan Chase & Co51$1,435,352$3,792,291
Apple Inc51$3,260,586$10,607,521
Chevron Corp45$3,906,425$8,499,373
AT&T Inc44$1,789,513$4,528,452
Exxon Mobil44$4,994,570$13,574,516
IBM Corp44$2,610,130$8,910,082
Pfizer Inc41$1,802,812$4,210,768
Coca-Cola Co39$2,585,059$6,026,000
Verizon Communications39$1,025,003$2,686,955
Johnson & Johnson39$2,228,584$5,062,532
Intel Corp37$1,078,456$3,005,409
Cisco Systems37$482,387$1,467,349
Pepsico Inc35$2,349,272$5,450,226
Walt Disney Co34$1,021,927$2,528,882
Merck & Co31$2,164,761$4,371,730

6. Congress receives a basic salary of $174,000 a year, out of tax payer money. Under current law, they automatically receive a yearly cost of living pay increase.

An important question arises, why is the average member paid so much, when they are already millionaires?

Recently,  Sen. McCaskill, a Democrat, introduced a bill with Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, to end automatic pay raises, but that’s not such a big deal when you think about it. Instead, turn the discussion into decreasing salaries from $174,000 to $56,000, which is what the average American household earns, and you might see some dead congressmen roll over in their graves.

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