Political: Why our leaders don't feel our pain/ this is so very true
February 27, 2011 7:26pm CST
Subject: Why Our Leaders Don`t feel Our Pain Lancaster On Line-Penn. Why our leaders don't feel our pain Our U.S. Senate and Congress members didn't do too shabbily. Their personal wealth grew by more than 16% from 2008 through 2009. Topping the list of wealthiest congress members are Obama Antagonist In Chief U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa of California, a Republican whose personal wealth grew 21 percent to $303.5 million during the recession; Democratic U.S. Rep. Jane Harman of California, whose assets grew nearly 20 percent to $293.4 million; and Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, whose wealth increased more than 14 percent to $238.8 million. Locally, Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts' net worth grew by more than 25 percent, from an estimated $383,500 in assets in 2008 to about $480,500 in 2009, according to the nonpartisan group. He ranks 265th among the 435 House members in personal wealth. I say "about" because it is almost impossible to glean precisely what our legislators are worth; the financial disclosure forms they must file don't require exact values, only a range. In Pitts' case, his net worth is somewhere between $296,005 and $650,000. And they don't require Congress members to report assets such as personal residences. The numbers don't include the base salary for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate, which is $174,000. But they do include, in some instances, pensions from previously held jobs; Pitts, for example, discloses $90,867 in annual income from his pension for serving 24 years as a member of the Pennsylvania House. The data raise important questions, namely about how we elect our representatives and the role wealth plays in the ability to lead. Nearly half of our U.S. House and Senate members are millionaires, and the median wealth in Congress is $911,510 and nearing $1 million at last count — far greater than in the country's population as a whole. In general, as the Center for Responsive Politics puts it: "Few federal lawmakers must grapple with the financial ills — unemployment, loss of housing, wiped out savings — that have befallen millions of Americans." I believe that. And if you do, too, you've got to wonder whether such a collective body can solve problems to which its members cannot even remotely relate. Sadly, I think we already know the answer to that question.