(WASHINGTON) -- It’s no secret that many members of the U.S. House and Senate are millionaires -- their salaries paid for in part by the American taxpayer. But their six-figure salaries are just the tip of Congress members' earning potential.
The Center for Responsive Politics has crunched the numbers and released the results on its Open Secrets blog: “About 47 percent of Congress, or 249 current members are millionaires...In 2010, the estimated median net worth of a current U.S. Senator stood at an average of $2.56 million.”
“Despite the global economic meltdown in 2008 and the sluggish recovery that followed, that’s up about 7.6 percent from an estimated median net worth of $2.38 million in 2009...and up 13 percent from a median net worth of $2.27 million in 2008...Fully 36 Senate Democrats, and 30 Senate Republicans reported an average net worth in excess of $1 million in 2010. The same was true for 110 House Republicans and 73 House Democrats,” the Center’s research went on to say.
“The vast majority of members of Congress are quite comfortable, financially, while many of their own constituents suffer from economic hardships,” said Sheila Krumholz at the Center For Responsive Politics. “Few Americans enjoy the same financial cushions maintained by most members of Congress -- or the same access to market-altering information that could yield personal, financial gains.”
A recent 60 Minutes feature blew the lid off of one major moneymaking perk: insider trading laws don't apply to members of Congress, allowing them to legally buy and sell stock with market-shaking knowledge of upcoming patents, drug approvals, key economic data, and the like.
Such market activity would be a federal crime to anybody else, including so-called Wall Street "fat cats" some of the same members of Congress publicly decry.
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