American political leaders have a tremendous responsibility, including keeping the country safe and secure. A large part of this responsibility includes keeping America financially strong and fiscally sound. Yet Congressional approval ratings are at historic lows, unemployment continues to average above 7 percent, and economic indicators are mixed at best.
Average Americans are struggling like never before while consumer debt passes the 11 trillion mark. Many lawmakers with the ability to change systematic problems seem oblivious and political party affiliation seems to matter little. Is their wealth hindering them from empathizing with “regular” people?
Congress Members Pay and Benefits
261 of the 453, or 60 percent of Congress has a net worth more than 1 million dollars. And the 55 wealthiest? These have an average net worth of $10 million each, with most of this wealth coming from sources other than their $174,000 average salary, yet speaker of the House John Boehner’s salary tops $223,500.
Along with income, lawmakers have a robust benefits package. In additional to a guaranteed monthly pension, Thrift Savings Plan, a $3,000 tax deduction just for living away from home and better health insurance coverage than almost all Americans, Congressmen and women are eligible for full retirement at age 62 after 5 short years of service. If they serve for 20 years, they can retire at age 50!
Other perks of membership
In addition to standard benefits, other perks include services that most American’s would have to spend their personal money for. In fact, Senator haircuts (over the last 15 years) have cost taxpayers more than $5.25 million. Shoeshines cost $40,000 per year and the cost of private parking, elevators, dining and even a restricted subway often go unnoticed.
The wealthiest statesman in 2013 is Darrell Issa, with a net worth of $335,000,000. This makes him 5,000 times richer than the average household in his district. Michael McCaul comes in at second place, with $114 million in net worth, followed by Mark Warner ($96.31 million), Richard Blumenthal ($85.32 million), Jay Rockefeller ($83.77 million), John Delaney ($68.35 million) and Jared Polis ($68.13 million).
Meanwhile, real median incomes continue to fall, dropping 8.3 percent since 2007, as average U.S. workers earn $2,400 less every year since 2009. Even more grim – 15 percent of Americans live in poverty, with less than $23,492 coming in annually for a family of four. This means more than 46 million people, 16 million who are children and almost 4 million seniors have little to live on.
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