Congressional representatives are richer, Americans are not

Gap Between Americans, Congressional Representatives Grows Considerably Over Last 25 Years

A new investigation by the Washington Post has revealed the financial gap between Americans and their representatives in Congress has widened considerably over the past 25 years. Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars. Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding to just more than $20,000. A key reason for the shift is the soaring cost of political campaigns. According to the Federal Election Commission, since 1976, the average amount spent by winning House candidates quadrupled in inflation-adjusted dollars, to $1.4 million.

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3 Responses

  1. I think discipline against this disparity starts with internal organization. Various left parties have adopted this “party tax” model: http://rabble.ca/babble/international-news-and-politics/swedish-left-party-caps-mp-pay-new-party-tax

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  2. Yes – this is certainly a good idea, although it doesn’t address the issue of post service remuneration – the well known phenomenon of retired politicians being rewarded by those whose interests they served while holding positions of power. I suggested a lifetime renunciation of wealth as a condition for service.

    An alternative or complementary policy would be an allotted anti-corruption body that would monitor delegates and professionals, both active and retired, and verify that such exchange of favors is not taking place.

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  3. I would think that would be merely complements of the Paris Commune’s measure adapted to modern circumstances – a combination of appropriate pay levels and expense allowances, mandated loss of other occupations (since these offices should be full-time positions), employment transition programs for occupants leaving office (which tackles in part your “post-service remuneration” concern), and other measures – again such that all political and related administrative offices would operate on the basis of occupants’ standards of living being at or slightly lower than the median equivalent for professional and other skilled workers.

    Another policy against “post-service remuneration” which is more pervasive would be: Fuller socio-income democracy through direct proposals and rejections – at the national level and above – regarding the creation and adjustment of income multiples limits in all industries, for all major working-class and other professions, and across all types of income.

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