Congress: The 1 Percent

Congress: The 1 Percent

While the U.S. Congress has never been more divided by party, there is something that unites many congressmen and senators. They’re millionaires.

Maybe you’ve heard this, but only about 1 percent of Americans are worth a million bucks. There are 535 congressmen and senators so, statistically, only 5 or 6 of them should be millionaires, right? Nope. Try 250.  That’s nearly half of them. No wonder they’re so reluctant to give up those”temporary” Bush tax cuts for the rich.


“47% of Congress Members Millionaires — a Status Shared by Only 1% of Americans,” Tom Shine, ABC News

“Most Members of Congress Enjoy Robust Financial Status, Despite Nation’s Sluggish Economic Recovery,”


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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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2 Responses to “Congress: The 1 Percent”

  1. Michael Wells Says:

    Your comment and the links don’t make the distinction between taxable income and net worth. The ABC article suggests that, if measured by net worth, a major percentage of Congress are millionaires. Probably true, however, the “1%” referenced in current political discussions refers to taxable income (whether ordinary or capital gains) not net worth. For example, if you own a house with a net value of $500,000 and an IRA worth $500,000, you are a “millionaire” using net worth as a measure, even if you earn less than $100,000 per year in taxable income. People in that earning category will not be affected by a “millionaire’s tax.”
    P.S. I support repealing the Bush tax cuts but that will also raise taxes on some “middle class” taxpayers.

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    Michael Wells: you are absolutely correct about the identity of the 1%, but tax records of public officials are not uniformly available, and PNW tracks income and capital gains fairly closely. It is worth emphasizing that the truly rich do not get paychecks, anyway, they get capital gains, taxed at a lower rate than wage earnings.

    Valuation of IRA investments and housing is probably about 1/3 less than it was before the Bush-fueled economic crash, and PNW only counts the individuals’s equity, not the presumed resale value of property.

    BTW, the Bush tax cuts do not need to be “repealed” since they were instituted as temporary measures and can (and should) simply be allowed to expire. That’s not enough, though. The same politicians who elevated Ronald Reagan to sainthood conveniently ignore the one sane element of his tax policy: tax capital gains at the same rate as wages.

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