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Federal budget woes don't extend to most members of Congress

March 13, 2008 | 11:07 am

The folks over at Open Secrets have been crunching numbers again, and their conclusions this morning include the sorts of things likely to set some people's teeth grinding.

The median net worth for members of the U.S. Senate was $1.7 million -- no real surprise, since the Senate has long been a bastion of the rich. But the net worth of members of the House of Representatives jumped 84% from 2004 to 2006. Open Secrets points out that they used financial disclosure reports through 2006, so this does not reflect recent drops in the market. Or, for that matter, the 2007 run-up. According to Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics:

"Like a lot of Americans, as the economy did well, Congress did well -- but lawmakers did especially well. Now that the nation's economic road is turning rougher, members of Congress have a far more comfortable cushion than most Americans have to ride it out. If their constituents experience economic hardships, policymakers, who are in a position to help boost the economy, generally won't feel the same pain."

The two wealthiest members? Reps. Jane Harman and Darrell Issa of California, each with an average net worth of more than $300 million (the averages are computed from some rather wide ranges). The poorest? Then-Rep. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat who won election in 2006 to the Senate, was estimated to be $11.7 million in debt. You can check out the methodology -- and look for your favorite members of Congress -- here.

-- Scott Martelle

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