Wish there was a Congressional Net Worth graph somewhere? There is, on this very page! Using data compiled from one of our favorite sites Open Secrets, we took the average United States Congressional Net Worth (that data comes as a range, so the average will fall between the low and the high point) and used IBM’s Many Eyes to show their net worth to you, our curious readers. (If reading this in a reader or email click through to play with this awesome tool)
Congressional Net Worth Visualization
All of my data is available at IBM’s Many Eyes. Feel free to play with it and I’ll link to you if you come up with any derivative work!
To make every point the same size, you can change the size in the lower left once you click to interact. The slider on the right is interactive so you can color only members with higher than a certain net worth. If you hover over a box you can look at the data compiled for each politician.
Problems with the Congressional Net Worth Graph
I mentioned one problem with this graph – it lists the ‘average’ Net Worth reported per member of Congress. It may be closer to the lower or the upper bound, but it’s a decent starting point. Also note that member of Congress can play with the reporting when their spouses are independently wealthy, like Teresa Heinz (D – MA: John Kerry’s Wife. Kerry has much more resources than this graph implies.).
Also there are 435 members in a full House of Representatives (usually it’s a bit less due to retirements, deaths, and scandals) and 100 in the Senate. There are 638 data points in this graph since it includes members of Congress elected in 2008 and 2010.
How Many Members of Congress are in the One Percent?
The Economic Policy Institute reported in a 2011 briefing paper that being in the top 1% of net worth in 2007 would put you at $19,167,600 in 2009 adjusted dollars. Basically, by average net worth, 6.11% of Congress would be in the top 1%. Not bad!
On the other hand, the bottom 40% of households had a net worth of $2,300 in 2009 dollars according to that same study. By average net worth, that would put 5.49% of Congress in the bottom 40%. Also, the following member of Congress have an average net worth which is negative
- Keith Ellison (D-Minn)
- Steve Scalise (R-La)
- Tim Griffin (R-Ark)
- Andre Carson (D-Ind)
- Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla)
- Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)
- Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla)
- Deborah Ann Stabenow (D-Mich)
- John Shadegg (R-Ariz)
- Steve Israel (D-NY)
- Artur Davis (D-Ala)
- Marlin A. Stutzman (R-Ind)
- Renee Ellmers (R-NC)
- Kevin W. Yoder (R-Kan)
- Grace Napolitano (D-Calif)
- Dan Maffei (D-NY)
- Kristi Lynn Noem (R-SD)
- John Conyers Jr (D-Mich)
- Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY)
- Louis B. Gohmert Jr (R-Texas)
- Patrick J. Murphy (D-Pa)
- Sanford D. Bishop Jr (D-Ga)
- Sean P. Duffy (R-Wis)
- Terri Sewell (D-Ala)
- Bart Stupak (D-Mich)
- Laura Richardson (D-Calif)
- John Salazar (D-Colo)
- Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas)
- Steve Fincher (R-Tenn)
- Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla)
So it would certainly affect some members of Congress more than others if they are forced to take a pay cut.
I’m sure not all members on that list are still in Congress (read: I’m too lazy to check) – but note that Congress is in charge of our budget, including the 12 Republicans and 18 Democrats with an average negative net worth. Ironic, huh?
So you’ve got two Personal Finance takeaways from this… pick one. If you’re rich, joining Congress is a nice feather in your cap OR if you want to make money join Congress. I don’t know which one is more disturbing… let me know in the comments!