The Wealthiest Members Of Congress Blow You Out Of The Water

There’s a belief that growing up, we all start off as fiscal liberals given we have little-to-no income and depend on others to support us.  As we start supporting ourselves we turn more fiscally conservative, believing we know how to spend our money better than the government does.  Finally, when we retire, or make so much money we donate our wealth sto have our names on buildings, we turn back to fiscal liberals.  Do you believe this to be the case?

Below are the 10  + 1 wealthiest members of Congress, and my, what wealth they have!

1. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin) $300 million
2. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.): $188.6 million
3. Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.): $160.1 million
4. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.): $152.3 million
5. Sen. Jay Rockefeller ( D-W.Va.): $83.7 million
6. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas): $73.8 million
7. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.); $70.2 million
8. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.): $56.5 million
9. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.): $53.5 million
10. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.): $49.7 million

* Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.): $46.1 million, but add on her husband, Richard Blum’s net worth and they are over $500 million for sure!

I’m quite apolitical because the government is inefficient and politicians from both sides are always self-absorbed, power-hungry and devious.   Politics just provides comic relief and we should never rely on anybody, let alone our bankrupt government to take care of us.  This is why from a personal finance perspective, we need to save, invest, and save some more.

What are some conclusions you can take away from this list, if any?  Anything surprise you about the list?

Note: The approval ratings are even lower than in May , 2008. I just can’t find the chart.

Regards,

Sam – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

 

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    From the list:

    1) Looks like Republicans aren’t the “party of the rich.” Dems win 7 to 3.
    2) If these people can balance their own budgets, why can’t they balance the one we pay them to balance?
    3) If I had a net worth of $100M+, I’d find much better things to do than goof around in DC all day.

    From the approval rating chart:

    1) Americans love war.
    2) We’re slow to realize the ineptitude of elected officials.
    3) Republicans approve of big government, too. Look at those differences in approval!
    4) We’re happy with Congress, as long as we have a job.

  2. says

    Making money is good. Just know where your loyalties should lie – don’t apologize to BP even before an investigation. My beef is with politicians like that.

  3. says

    I takes a lot of money to go into politics anyway. What astonishes me is that all these rich successful people cannot make better decisions. The additional fact of how influential the lobbyists can be with people who are already rich. Elected officials strive for more and more power and influence. Money is a necessity to get elected!

  4. says

    Very interesting list. Perhaps the most bi-partisan effort to come out of Washington in a long time!

    I think people like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are the epitome of why good people who are not greedy, yet believe in fiscal conservatism are the best case scenario for capitalism and the USA. Buffet long ago realized he has a gift for placing capital most efficiently, and has used that gift to support some of the best business models and products around the world. In return he has generated a massive amount of wealth (much more than an inefficient managing of capital would have) and now he will give it back to the needy much more efficiently than the government could. He has simply pledged to leave a huge percentage of his money to the Bill Gates foundation. Gates has used his massive fortune, incredible network, and business expertise and created a great organization that researches how to solve a problem before throwing money at it. Buffet realizes he doesn’t have to do all this work if Gates is on it full time, and then he donates as tax efficiently as possible when he donates shares to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Together the two men show why smart money management by smart and good people is much more effective than heavy-handed government programs.

    • says

      Well, by definition, if you are in the private sector, you likely believe in free markets rather than government markets.

      Back to the thesis in the first paragraph though…. I think not.

  5. says

    I stay away from politics because it depresses me. Not because it’s led by rich, corrupt, self-serving politicians (although it is), but because it says such sad things about our culture. We the people vote for people that can’t relate to us because someone on TV told us that we should.

    Paying attention to politics makes me rant like this, which is why I don’t. I’ll stop now. :)

  6. Bret @ Hope to Prosper says

    I have always said the biggest difference between Democrats and Republicans is which special interests they represent.

    I am amazed at how long the blame game and other finger pointing has allowed these clowns to stay in office. I am also amazed at how many people believe candidates from their party are good and those from the other party are evil. For example, some people still blame Bush for everything happening now, while others believe Obama suddenly brought us into financial ruin. I’m about the only one I know who believes they were both irresponsible.

    The more people we vote out of office, from both parties, the more attention officials will pay to voters. The more they can get elected and reelected based on campaign contributions, the more attention they will pay to special interests.

    Disclosure: Registered Idependant

  7. says

    I would really be interested in knowing who is fiscally conservative versus socially conservative. I think that fiscally conservative individuals would tend to be wealthier. Congress seems to be more and more dominated by socially conservative individuals, who are running amok.

      • says

        Fiscally conservative focus on financial basics – balanced budget, not spending so much on government, etc. Socially conservative individuals are the ones fervent on legislating social issues – banning gay marriage, aboration laws, etc. There is some overlap – but Mitt Romey would fall into a fiscal conservative category, where as Ron Paul Jr. could be considered both fiscally and socially conservative.

  8. says

    I’m not surprised as it is a rich man’s/woman’s game for the most part. They go into it because they love power. I’m an Independant, but I’m pessimistic about progress for the American people via either party. Congress members represent the lobbyists, not you & me. That goes for both parties.

  9. says

    @Bret @ Hope to Prosper

    My dad used to vote out all incumbents, no matter which party they belonged to. He said that at least it would take the new person a while to get as efficient in wasting our money. I used to think he was terribly cynical. Now I’m old enough to see he was pretty much right. Only I’d say it takes a while to get bought by special interests.

  10. says

    My oh my! I wouldn’t have thought there would be so many wealthy democrats on a list like that. I wonder how many of them are not paying all their taxes!

  11. says

    It would be fascinating to compare it to a Canadian government equivalent. From what I understand, America’s rich are much richer than Canada’s rich. But America’s poor….. The first time I saw widspread poverty was during my first trip the U.S. Those on the lower end surely don’t get a fair crack, do they? I read that, despite having a fairly low income tax rate (yes, compared to most first world countries, Americans–especially wealthy Americans– enjoy low taxes) America’s poor pay roughly the same taxes as poor Canadians (but the Americans don’t get health care)

    • says

      Yeah, I bet the vol is higher here in America. Anybody who is in a proper setting growing up can be rich later in life. However, some don’t have the same basic chances as others, while others squander their opportunities.

      Not having healthcare leads to a slippery slope of poverty if something goes wrong.

  12. says

    Same here, pretty much of a political atheist.

    Don’t mind that these rich members of the elected nobility are fiscal liberals, just don’t want them being that with other people’s money.

    I wonder how Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) didn’t make the list. He’s supposed to be worth about $300 Million.

  13. Patrick says

    An interesting comparison will be how rich as these politicians as compared to the wealthy in France when the public finally snapped and killed them all during the revolution?

    At what point do the people break down and say the hell with these politicians who have nothing in common with the general public except for the fact that we live in the same geographical hemisphere.

    I am not advocating violence, I am just saying something has to change.

    • says

      That would be interesting. Perhaps the American public is too stupid to know, which is why the same old crappy politicians keep on getting elected?

      It’s clear from the list the Democrats are much wealtheir as a whole. So why is it that the Democrats are seen as “the people’s” party? Strange ain’t it?

      I love America.

  14. says

    I guess I am not surprised. I can’t imagine the ‘ordinary’ person having the money or connections to get elected.

    By the way, I know many wealthy democrats!

    • says

      Democrats are the party of the rich from what we can see from this list. Which is odd why there is a misconception that the poor to middle class of America vote Democratically. Hmmm.

  15. says

    Can anyone spell “conflict of interest” when it comes to taking wise decision on government spending and taxes?

    but then again, why blame them for anything. If I am in their shoes, I’d probably work in the interest of my networth….

  16. says

    I cant say I’m surprised – (though I do know rep polis is self made – he cashed out during the initial web bubble).
    Also, look at the geography of the list – there’s only 2 person not from the coast (Kohl & Polis), and Rockefeller is old money too. Makes sense because that’s where the most people are, but the 2 states with the richest people in the world arent represented on this list at all (NE & WA)

  17. says

    What do I take away from this list?

    Well first and foremost, before I get a bit cynical, I love our country. My parents were born and raised in a third world country and after visiting their motherland since childhood and most recently in 2009, I love the U.S of A even more!

    I think if the United States were a “person” it would be this ridiculously rich dad, and we (the people who live in the United States) would be the ridiculously spoiled children. I know not all of us are “spoiled” but majority are. Both father and children don’t know how to manage money.

    Our government or politicians are the neurons of this ridiculously rich dad and are always unable to process or come to correct decisions :P

    Geez those neurons are paid well!

    And I totally agree with your sentiment we should never rely on anybody (parents, kids, etc., etc.), let alone our bankrupt government to take care of us. These high earners probably could care less about the overall consequences of their decisions.

    It’s all about self accountability.

    • says

      Great analogy! We are lucky, and perhaps spoiled beyond our wildest dreams! Every time I hear a complaint, I have a knee jerk thought of STFU!

      There’s so much opportunity in America, even multi-millionaires can become corrupt, power-hungry politicians! :)

  18. Darwin's Money says

    I like how Congressmen are the only cohort on earth that can routinely beat the market (even hedge fund managers can’t match their returns). That’s pretty impressive for a group that can’t balance a budget. How do they do it? Well, of course, they invest in the same companies they regulate; insider trading at its best!

  19. says

    money power is the biggest power, if you have money you have power, when you have some power, you can earn more..it’s a vicious cycle. We can’t run for anything unless we have money. Hence, easily all politician are wealthy.

    There are some exceptions but they are either war heros or exceptional administrators. But I don’t think we can blame anyone for this it’s us who vote

  20. says

    Not a very representive goverment of the masses is it? But has it ever been?

    At least it beats living in a state that has a dictator (aka N. Korea) as the governmental system…

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