Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

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Turning the tables on Congress

Well, as has been discussed on this blog before, many of the blow-ups over federal employees’ salaries and benefits have traced their origins to news stories that first appeared in the pages of USA Today.

So feds might be glad to note that the publication this month has taken aim at a new group of federal “employees”—members of Congress.

The “rich lawmakers”-themed story took up the whole right column of the front page of the Nov. 16 issue, under the headline: Wealthy Congress: 11% of the 1%; Median worth 9 times typical household’s.

According to the piece, members of Congress had a median net worth of $891,506, and 249 are millionaires. The report noted that super budget hawk Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), worth $448.1 million, is the richest.

Both parties have rich folks at the top of the list. The piece also notes that some, like Issa and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), earned their money; while others, like Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), married into it.

The authors pulled their data from information compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. (CRP is a good source, by the way, for info on lawmakers' worth, sources of income, investments, the lobbies that support them, and more—take a look at their website at

One should also note that CRP itself actually says that the lawmakers’ net worth is difficult to gauge, because the members report only the range into which the value of a given investment falls.

Based on that system, for example, CRP notes that Issa’s net worth is between $195.4 million and $700.8 million—a fairly big range. So, $448.1 million is the midpoint. But even at a measly $195.4 million, Issa would be viewed by most as being fairly flush.

So there you have it. While Congress continues to make critical decisions—like the one on Nov. 14 that magically assigned pizza (for school lunches) to the vegetable category because of the smear of tomato sauce it contains—feds now can take their turn, and play “pile on Congress.”

And if you’re not in the mood for that now, maybe you will be after we learn what the super committee has in store for you …

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Nov 18, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Reader comments

Thu, Dec 15, 2011 Debora Oregon

I watched a debate over the weekend and the question asked of the participants (potential presidents) What and how have you done without. they had nothing. Not one of them knew what it was like to make a choice between rent and food for their kids. No one went without so that thier children could have an education. They talked about their parents and grandparents. These people are not reality based. If they lose their income, they will still eat, pay rent for mansions... their life goes on pretty much as is.

Tue, Dec 13, 2011

I agree with a previous comment. The people in Congress have no idea what it is like to have to live from paycheck to paycheck. The wrong people are in power. I think we should follow England's election process. After the Primary, there are only 6 weeks to campaign for Prime Minister. We could do that in the USA. After the Primary, 6 weeks and then the election. All states should have the Primary on the same day. If you haven't gotten your point to the people in 6 weeks, you shouldn't be running for the highest office in the first place.

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 Don WA

A bunch of people jumped on the "CHANGE" Slogan last go around and we ended up with a little change left in our pockets. Congress Senate and WH work for themselfs. Time is way past due to kick them all out of office. Anyone with more than 8 years Congress / Senate need to go. Total WH, Staff and ZARS need to go. Find someone who truly has done something outside politics.

Mon, Nov 28, 2011

Pizza a vegetable sounds fair. I consider cow, goat, deer, and pig as vegetable and grass processing tools. So the meat I eat is salad! We the voters have the power to throw the bums out! Hopefully we will get our friends and fellow workers and their friends and fellow workers to vote in the primary and general election this coming cycle. The many wealthy congress members love the power the office gives them. Why did congress move us to FERS from CSRS? To save money? NO! To improve our lives? NO! To increase their power by proping up social security with several million more victims of the federal ponci game? YES,YES,YES!

Mon, Nov 28, 2011

No wonder they don't want to increase taxes on the wealthy, they are the wealthy.

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