The wealth gap between average Americans and their elected representatives in Congress has widened tremendously, according to recent analysis of financial disclosures.
Political observers blame stagnant employee wages and the growing cost of running for public office as one culprit behind the growing disparity. But as the the New York Times reports, nearly half of all members of Congress are millionaires and their median net worth grew by 15 percent and dropped eight percent for their constituents over a six year period.
The trend has been ongoing for the past three decades, but is accentuated by hard economic times.
From the Washington Post:
Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home equity.
Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan.
The comparisons exclude home equity because it is not included in congressional reporting, and 1984 was chosen because it is the earliest year for which consistent wealth statistics are available.
The growing disparity between the representatives and the represented means that there is a greater distance between the economic experience of Americans and those of lawmakers.