The unreality of the Beltway bubble

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Monopolyb If you have ever wondered why Congress is so out of touch with average Americans and serves only the interests of the wealthiest Americans, Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org) has the answer. Congressional Members' Personal Wealth Expands Despite Sour National Economy – OpenSecrets:

Despite a stubbornly sour national economy congressional members’ personal wealth collectively increased by more than 16 percent between 2008 and 2009, according to a new study by the Center for Responsive Politics of federal financial disclosures released earlier this year.

And while some members’ financial portfolios lost value, no need to bemoan most lawmakers’ financial lot: Nearly half of them – 261 – are millionaires, a slight increase from the previous year, the Center’s study finds. That compares to about 1 percent of Americans who lay claim to the same lofty fiscal status.

And of these congressional millionaires, 55 have an average calculated wealth in 2009 of $10 million or more, with eight in the $100 million-plus range.

Few federal lawmakers must grapple with the financial ills – unemployment, loss of housing, wiped out savings – that have befallen millions of Americans,” said Sheila Krumholz, the Center for Responsive Politics’ executive director. “Congressional representatives on balance rank among the wealthiest of wealthy Americans and boast financial portfolios that are all but unattainable for most of their constituents.”

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For all members of Congress regardless of chamber, median wealth in 2009 reached $911,510, up from $785,515 in 2008.  This spike in personal wealth represents a notable rebound from the period between 2007 and 2008, when overall congressional wealth slipped by more than 5 percent. Federal lawmakers’ personal wealth climaxed in 2007 – the pinnacle of nearly a decade’s worth of steady asset value expansion.

Howard Fineman added this observation on Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night:

OLBERMANN: Do they not get they don‘t look like America? I mean, are they pushing for the tax cuts for $250,000 and up because it benefits them?

FINEMAN: No. I don‘t think in most cases it‘s that. But I think they‘re definitely cut off here, Keith. It‘s the nature of politics today which, as I said, favors wealthy people who run, number one. Number two, the Washington area is not like the rest of America.

OLBERMANN: Yes.

FINEMAN: A new Forbes study showed that nine of the wealthiest 14 counties in America are in the Washington metropolitan area. America's 25 Richest Counties – Forbes.com

Then when you‘re in Congress, you have platinum level health care. You have great pensions. You have a very good salary. You‘re a member of the investor class, not the working class. And you‘re divorce not even from—not just from people on the shop floor or people who are poor.

You are now disengaged from middle class America. That‘s what‘s so stark about this gulf. It‘s not between the richest and the poorest. This is not your grandfather‘s depression with the soup lines or your father‘s recession of 25 years ago. This is a thing where the gulf is between the leaders and the led, between the wealthy in Congress and between middle class people that they used to be part of.

I would like to see the Center for Responsive Politics do a similar study on the media villagers and Beltway bloviators, pundits and syndicated columnists. They, like members of Congress, do not look like America and are members of the wealthy elite, and share the unreality of the Beltway bubble.

Great wealth has corrupted our political system. I don't know that there is any solution to this problem.

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