Congress sees 25% increase in wealth since economic collapse

Members of Congress enjoyed a collective net worth of more than $2 billion dollars in 2010, a nearly 25 percent increase in two years, according to a Roll Call analysis of Members’ financial disclosure forms.

Roughly 90 percent of that increase sits in the pockets of the 50 richest Congressmen.

In 08 the minimum net worth of House Members was slightly more than $1 billion while Senators had a combined minimum worth of $651 million for a Congressional total of $1.65 billion. The minimum net worth in the House has jumped to $1.26 billion, and at least $784 million for the Senate, for a total of $2.04 billion this year.

These wealth totals do not include homes and other non-income-generating property, which is likely to tally hundreds of millions of uncounted dollars.

While wealth overall is scattered fairly evenly between the two parties Democrats hold about 80 percent of the wealth in the Senate with Republicans controling about 78 percent of the wealth in the House.

The 50 richest Members of Congress accounted for 78 percent of the net worth in the institution in 2008 ($1.29 billion of the $1.65 billion total); by 2010 the share of the 50 richest had risen to 80 percent ($1.63 billion of the $2.04 billion total). The pie of Congressional wealth got bigger, and the richest Members are getting a bigger slice.

If you were to divide the total wealth of Congress by the number of Members you would get an average net worth of about $3.8 million (excluding non-income-producing property such as personal residences) for each Congressman. By comparison, for the rest of the country, based on statistics released by the Federal Reserve, average household net worth is around $500,000 this year (including personal residences), according to David Rosnick, an economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Congress is also getting richer faster than the rest of the nation. According to Federal Reserve data, from the end of 2008 to end of 2010, aggregate household worth increased 12 percent.” which is about half the increase Congress achieved during the same time period.

Alan Ziobrowski, a professor of real estate at Georgia State University, has produced studies of Congressional investment patterns indicating that lawmakers in both chambers tend to fare better in their investment portfolios than the average American, in part because “[t]here is no doubt in my mind that they are trading in some way on information that is there.”

But he also points out that the Membership of Congress has turned over since 2008, making it difficult to compare wealth over time. “You’ve got different people,” he said.

In the aftermath of the 2010 elections that swept Republicans to power, about 20 percent of the Members included in the 2010 survey were not included in the 2008 survey.

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