Politicians Get Wealthier As Those They Represent Get Poorer

In the past quarter-century, Congressmen have gone from super rich to super-duper rich, while their constituents have remained relatively poor. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are doing quite well for themselves, raising their median net worth from $280,000 to $725,000 from 1984 to 2009. In the same span, the average net worth of American families has dropped from $20,600 to $20,500. The inflation-adjusted figures come from Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan.

As The Washington Post notes, the income disparity highlights the potential difficulty of lawmakers to sympathize with constituents’ economic plights as they consider legislation. The figures also demonstrate how rare and difficult it is for those from the middle or lower classes to attain political office.

The resources and connections it takes to win Congressional elections are daunting. Winning Congressional campaign expenditures have quadrupled to $1.4 million since 1976. It’s a given that poor people generally have more urgent purposes for their money rather than donating to those campaigns, presumably giving them less access to their representatives.

Growing wealth widens distance between lawmakers and constituents [The Washington Post]