Friday, January 10, 2014

Which Side Are New Mexico's Democrats On?

For the first time a majority of members of congress and senators are millionaires, according to the Center For Responsive Politics which has compiled financial disclosure data that all US house and senate members are required by law to file.

Here is a sampling of the list with the lowest and highest net worth figures they've filed and the average of all filings. The number before their name indicates their ranking as of 2012.

                                                          lowest           average             highest

1. Darrell Issa (R-CA)                 $330,380,031   464,115,018   597,850,005

 38. Steve Pearce (R-NM)                 7,983,015     22,614,007      37,245,000
157. Tom Udall (D-NM)                   1,674,044       2,881,022        4,088,000
356. Michelle Grisham (D-NM)          200,004           435,001          669,998
432. Ben Lujan (D-NM)                        46,005           205,502           364,999
444. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)            -106,984           171,007          448,999

531. David Valadao (R-CA)            -24,498,997    -12,167,002          164,993

These are the people who let unemployment benefits lapse at Christmas and recently cut Medicare and food stamps, and are devising a bipartisan way to cut Social Security. By the way, seven of the top ten richest house and senate members are Democrats and the $1.04 million average wealth of Democrats is higher than that of Republicans, $1 million.

Wealth is important for two reasons.  The most obvious is that as humans we are most concerned about the things that affect ourselves. This plays out in many ways. One is that we naturally tend to protect our own economic interests.

The other, more subtle way wealth is important is that because of the physical fact that we are in economic class A, we simply do not have occasion to think about the problems people in other economic classes face. Their problems don't normally occur to us. We just don't spend much time thinking about them, and -- very significantly -- we don't know how their lives are affected by them.

Here are some other house and senate members and how they rank:

   2. Mark Warner (D-VA)                 96,221,316   257,481,658    418,742,000
 10. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)                   1,046,071     87,997,030    174,947,989
 23. Alan Grayson (D-FL)                  -2,212,951   40,362,024       82,936,999
 77. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)            3,820,028     6,990,514        10,161,000
 96. Paul Ryan (R-WI)                         2,206,097     5,405,558          8,605,000
112. Harry Reid (D-NV)                      2,565,061     4,372,030          6,178,999
123. John Boenher (R-OH)                  1,914,122     3,924,561          5,935,000
355. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)                    116,014          460,506           804,998
372. Rand Paul (R-KY)                          231,006          398,003           565,000
477. John Lewis (D-GA)                            9,009            72,004            135,000

Alan Grayson holds himself out as a champion of the working class and promotes himself heavily in progressive media.

Elizabeth Warren, in her first term in the senate, is often held up in progressive media as champion of the 99 percent's interests because she speaks out about them often, especially about the way big banks and corporations are ripping us off and are not well policed or well regulated.

Bernie Sanders, the Socialist senator (and formerly house member) from Vermont, has been the most steadfast of the current members of congress in speaking out about economic justice. Bernie is almost always on the right side of an issue.

I mention John Lewis, the veteran of the civil rights movement, because he has been in congress going on 27 years and has not amassed any more wealth than the typical middle class homeowner, while typically congress members become more and more wealthy during their years in office. A prime example is former senator Jeff "Bing Bing" Bingaman who left Washington worth more than $10 million and whose wife received multi-million dollar payments for her lobbying services.

The chart is on the web in two forms. One is searchable but only displays 250 names at a time. Another lists them all in one spreadsheet type chart.

According to a story about the study in The Wire the top source of wealth for senators and members of congress is not their salaries but investments and book deals.

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