If our founding fathers could see the cesspool that the U.S. Congress has become today, they would roll over in their graves. Most Americans don't realize this, but we already have a "part-time Congress". Members of Congress only "work" a little over a third of the days on the calendar. The rest of the time they have off. It is no wonder why so many members of Congress are involved in so much corruption - they have so much free time on their hands that they are bound to get into trouble. Many members of Congress also use their positions of power and the information they learn during the course of their duties to become fabulously wealthy. At a time when incomes nationally are actually declining, our Congress critters are becoming stinking rich at a staggering pace. Yes, politics in America has always been a game that is funded and played by wealthy individuals, but things have gotten so extreme that it is hard to argue that average Americans have any control over Congress at all at this point. Instead of a government "of the people, by the people and for the people", we now have a government "of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy". If you doubt this, just keep on reading.
Over the past couple of decades, the "wealth gap" between members of Congress and average Americans has grown to ridiculous proportions. Things have gotten so bad that now even the New York Times is reporting on these things....
"Largely insulated from the country’s economic downturn since 2008, members of Congress — many of them among the “1 percenters” denounced by Occupy Wall Street protesters — have gotten much richer even as most of the country has become much poorer in the last six years"
So how wealthy have members of Congress become?
Many of you won't believe the statistics posted below. The truth is that Congress has become all about money. It takes huge piles of money to get elected to Congress, it takes huge piles of money to stay in Congress, and most members of Congress seem to be able to accumulate gigantic piles of money while "serving" their country....
-Today, there are 250 members of Congress that are millionaires.
-According to the Wall Street Journal, the median net worth of members of Congress is now $913,000.
-The collective net worth of all of the members of Congress increased by 25 percent between 2008 and 2010. Meanwhile, the standard of living in the United States has fallen farther over the past three years than at any other time that has ever been recorded in U.S. history.
-After adjusting for inflation, between 1984 and 2009 the median net worth of members of Congress rose from $280,000 to $725,000 while the median net worth of all Americans actually declined slightly over that same time period.
-The collective net worth of all of the members of Congress is now slightly over 2 billion dollars. That is "billion" with a "b".
-In 2009, Congress was only scheduled to be in session for 137 days out of the 365 days of the year. In 2010, Congress was also only scheduled to be in session for 137 days out of the entire year. For much more on the pathetic "work schedule" of the U.S. Congress, just check out this video.
-The net worth of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi increased by 62 percent from 2009 to 2010. In 2009 it was reported that she had a net worth of 21.7 million dollars, and in 2010 it was reported that she had a net worth of 35.2 million dollars.
-The top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, saw his wealth grow by 29 percent from 2009 to 2010. He is now worth approximately 9.8 million dollars.
-U.S. Representative Darrell Issa is worth approximately 220 million dollars. His wealth grew by approximately 37 percent from 2009 to 2010.
-The wealthiest member of Congress, U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, is worth approximately 294 million dollars.
-Those that won U.S. Senate seats during the last election spent an average of nearly $10 million on their campaigns.
-More than 5 billion dollars was spent on political campaigns back in 2008, and it is being projected that 8 billion dollars will be spent on political campaigns in 2012.
-When it comes to federal elections, the candidate that raises the most money wins about 90 percent of the time.
-Since 1964, the reelection rate for members of the U.S. House of Representatives has never fallen below 85 percent.
It is also amazing how deeply corrupt Congress has become. In a previous article, I detailed how a number of Congress critters used confidential information about the coming financial crisis that they received from U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in September 2008 to make beneficial stock market moves before the stock market crashed later that fall....
On September 16, 2008 Paulson and Bernanke held "closed door meetings" with members of Congress and warned them that the financial system was about to totally collapse.
But instead of racing out to save the financial system, author Peter Schweizer says that many of our representatives in Congress raced out to save their stock portfolios.
In his new book, Schweizer alleges the following....
*Schweizer says that U.S. Senator Dick Durbin sold $74,715 worth of stock on September 17th and $42,000 worth of stock on September 18th.
*Schweizer says that U.S. Representative Jim Moran sold off shares in 90 different corporations on September 17th.
*Schweizer says that U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse sold off at least $250,000 worth of stock between September 18th and September 24th.
*Schweizer says that U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus bet very heavily against the stock market in the days following the September 16th meeting and made tens of thousands of dollars doing so.
*Schweizer says that U.S. Senator John Kerry bought up approximately $350,000 of Bank of America stock and approximately $550,000 of Citigroup stock during October 2008 and November of 2008. It was during this time period that the bailout programs for the big banks were being developed and debated.
So has anyone gotten into trouble for any of that?
Of course not.
Congress critters play by an entirely different set of rules than the rest of us do.
At this point, the American people are absolutely disgusted with Congress. According to the latest polls, the approval rating for Congress is sitting at about 12 percent.
But of course the vast majority of our Congress critters will be re-elected over and over and over again.
Most members of Congress do not care about you. What they do care about is taking care of their political careers and taking care of their big donors. As noted earlier, it takes enormous amounts of money to win national elections in America, and most members of Congress are not about to do anything that will threaten the gravy train.
Our system is fundamentally broken. It is time to quit pretending.
But of course the mainstream media will never admit this, because mainstream media outlets are owned by many of the same corporations and wealthy individuals that fund political campaigns. For the establishment, the current system is working just fine.
So until the American people wake up and start demanding fundamental reforms, our Congress critters are going to continue to live the high life and we are going to keep on getting the same pathetic results out of Washington.