Congressman Moneybags: Darrell Issa and Washington’s epidemic of wealth

For the first time ever, more members of Congress are millionaires than not. Why it's bad news for the rest of us

Topics: BillMoyers.com, Darrell Issa, Income inequality, Congress, Wealth,

Congressman Moneybags: Darrell Issa and Washington's epidemic of wealthCongressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) (Credit: Reuters/Jose Luis Magaua)
This piece originally appeared on BillMoyers.com.

Over the holidays, I was watching that old Marilyn Monroe comedy “How to Marry a Millionaire” on Turner Classic Movies (okay, I have no life). This week, a new report suggests (to me, at least)  that if Hollywood were to produce a remake of that 1953 film, the variety of now politically incorrect tactics Ms. Monroe and her friends deploy to land a well-to-do partner could be reduced to one: start dating a member of Congress.

An analysis of personal financial disclosure data by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics reveals that “for the first time in history” a majority of senators and representatives are millionaires:

Of 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012, according to disclosures filed last year by all members of Congress and candidates. The median net worth for the 530 current lawmakers who were in Congress as of the May filing deadline was $1,008,767 — an increase from last year when it was $966,000. In addition, at least one of the members elected since then, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), is a millionaire, according to forms she filed as a candidate. (There is currently one vacancy in Congress.)

This is up from the previous year, when approximately 48 percent of the members had a median net worth of at least a million, and represents, according to the Center, “a watershed moment at a time when lawmakers are debating issues like unemployment benefits, food stamps and the minimum wage, which affect people with far fewer resources, as well as considering an overhaul of the tax code.”

According to the Center’s executive director Sheila Krumholz, “Despite the fact that polls show how dissatisfied Americans are with Congress overall, there’s been no change in our appetite to elect affluent politicians to represent our concerns in Washington. Of course, it’s undeniable that in our electoral system, candidates need access to wealth to run financially viable campaigns, and the most successful fundraisers are politicians who swim in those circles to begin with.”



Yes, indeed. Her comments come as the Center alsoreportsthat candidates’ campaign committeesalready have raised $446 million for the 2014 midterm elections with incumbents raking in more than ten times the amount of their challengers. The midterms already are shaping up as the most expensive ever, coming in the wake of the 2012 elections’ orgy of splurging, much of it in hefty checks from anonymous big spenders whose wallets have been freed by Citizens United and other court decisions.

When it comes to the personal billfolds of Congressional incumbents, overall, Democrats slightly edge out Republicans with a median net worth just a few thousand above the million mark (in the Senate, GOP members do a little better than Dems; in the House, it’s the opposite).

Returning to the top spot after a year in the number two position is the powerful and publicity-obsessed Republican House member Darrell Issa of California, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, scourge of the IRS and car alarm magnate, whose average net worth in 2012 was $464 million.  He took back the #1 title from Republican Congressman Michael McCaul of Texas, whose wife Linda is the daughter of Clear Channel Communications Chairman Lowry Mays.

As for their most popular investments, 74 members reported owning shares in defense contractor and appliance maker General Electric, which shelled out $4.6 million in campaign contributions during the 2012 election cycle and spent more than $21 million on lobbying in 2012. Second on the list was Wells Fargo – 58 members have shares. Its 2012 campaign contributions were almost $3.8 million, lobbying was another $6.8 million. Other top ten stock picks include Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Apple, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, IBM, Cisco Systems and AT&T, each of which makes sure to throw campaign cash at those members who help grease the skids. Would that there was such a stimulus program for the rest of us!

However, the Center notes, “real estate was the most popular investment for members of Congress. Their investments in real estate in 2012 were valued at between $442.2 million and $1.4 billion.”

So it’s like they say in the real estate business about making money: it’s all about location, location, location. Especially if your location is Capitol Hill.

(You can read the complete list of members, their assets and favorite investments here.)

Michael Winship is senior writing fellow at Demos and a senior writer of the new series, Moyers & Company, airing on public television.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...