Yesterday’s local newspaper contained a troubling article attributed to the Washington Post reporting that the personal wealth of members of Congress collectively increased 16% between 2008 and 2009. During this period of time the national economic downturn eliminated thousands of jobs for the average American citizen.
The article specified that median wealth in the House grew to $785,010 from $645,503 in one year. In the Senate the increase in the median income jumped from $2.27 million to $2.38 million. The Center for Responsive Politics reported that there are 251 millionaires in Congress, including eight lawmakers worth $10 million or more.
As stated by Sheila Krumholz, the Center’s executive director, “Few federal lawmakers must grapple with the financial ills – unemployment, loss of housing, wiped out savings – that have befallen millions of Americans.”
These facts cause your Commander to again wonder about the correlation between service in Congress and the attainment of a substantial increase in personal wealth during the period of that service. The facts seem obvious and the conclusion one is apt to draw is one that does not enhance the idea that honest service is attributed to all those who serve on Capitol Hill.
Quite frankly, I think the situation stinks when you think about it. We are responsible for permitting this to occur and continue year after year after year. Individuals of average means go to Washington, few depart without an abundance of wealth.
As an observer out here in “fly-over” country the message sent to me is, “Go to Washington, fill your pockets under the guise of serving the public, screw the electorate who sent you, and leave with a big bank account and a pension and perks to take care of you for the rest of your life.” Sad, but the parallel is obviously true.