Over the past few decades, the wealth gap between lawmakers and their constituents has widened, says a recent report by The Washington Post.
Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House of Representatives more than doubled from $280,000 to $725,000, adjusted for inflation in 2009 dollars and excluding home equity. During the same period, the median household income of Americans as a whole declined slightly from an already much lower $20,600 to $20,500, the article says.
The article explains that the growing wealth of Congress may have something to do with the high cost of campaigning, as wealthy individuals are more easily able to contribute to their own campaigns and gain office. Individuals running for Congressional office routinely spend into the millions campaigning, to achieve a position that pays $174,000.
The report on the growing Congressional-constituent wealth gap comes soon after a recent Congressional insider-trading scandal came to light. Lawmakers are involved in things like former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi buying stock in an initial public offering that earned hefty returns while she had access to insider information about pending legislation likely to impact those values.
A Gallup survey from last week found that only 11 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing.