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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 www.opensecrets.org.)

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 12:13 PM


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