Tales from the Trail

Senator, can you spare a million?

October 16, 2008

WASHINGTON – If you want a recession-proof job, maybe being a member of Congress is the way to go.
 
With the U.S. economy tanking, the 535 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate appear well-positioned to weather the storm, according to an analysis of their personal wealth by the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics. rtx9mpc.jpg
 
In 2007, the U.S. economy grew at 2.2 percent, the slowest pace in five years, with only 0.6 percent growth in the last quarter of that year, according to government statistics.
 
Things were rosier for those sitting on Capitol Hill.
 
According to CRP’s survey, the net worth for members of Congress grew 11 percent in 2007, “despite indications last year that the economy was headed south.”
 
In that year, senators had a median net worth of about $1.7 million, according to CRP, with 61 percent of senators considered millionaires.
 
For House members, median net worth was about $684,000, with 39 percent in the millionaire club. That compares to about 1 percent of all Americans reaching that status.
 
rtx9mpt.jpgDemocratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, a senator from Illinois, had a fabulous year in 2007, when he became the 31st richest senator, up from 70th richest in 2006, thanks mostly to royalties from two best-selling books, CRP said. His net worth grew from about $800,000 in 2006 to $4.7 million.
 
Obama’s opponent, Sen. John McCain went the other direction, but don’t feel too sad. He was the 12th richest senator, with a net worth of $28.5 million last year, thanks mostly to wife Cindy’s family fortune. That was down from 10th place in 2006.

In picking Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware as his running mate, Obama went out of his way to achieve a balanced ticket, at least when it comes to money. Biden is near the very bottom of  the list of “poorest” senators with a net worth of $215,997 at most, CRP said.

CRP noted that 2008 might not be so kind to lawmakers’ bank accounts however, given the nosedive in stocks and other investments.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage. 

-Photo credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria (McCain at a rally in Pennsylvania on Thursday); Reuters/Jim Young (Obama at a rally in New Hampshire on Thursday)

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