By Gregory Korte and Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Who is the 1%?
Well, about 57 members of Congress are part of that elite group.
Roughly 11% of Congress have net worth of more than $9 million, according to a USA TODAY analysis of 2010 financial disclosures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s enough to put them in the top 1% of wealth.
The richest in Congress
Congress’s top 1% and their estimated net worth:
• Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
Owned a car alarm maker.
• Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas
Married to the daughter of radio giant Clear Channel Communications’ founder.
• Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
Married to the widow of a Heinz ketchup heir.
• Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.
Co-founded cellphone company Nextel.
• Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis.
Oversaw family chain of stores.
Sources: Center for Responsive Politics and USA TODAY reporting
“We are the 99%” is the rallying cry for Occupy Wall Street and similar demonstrations protesting the concentration of wealth by the top 1%.
Congress also has 250 millionaires, the data show. The median net worth: $891,506, almost nine times the typical household.
“The vast majority of members of Congress are doing very well,” says they center’s Sheila Krumholz. “They’ve got the resources to tide them over through an extended sour economy.”
In the House, 23 Republicans and 10 Democrats are in the 1%, while in the Senate Democrats edge out Republican one percenters 13-11.
Lawmakers disclose their assets and liabilities only in broad ranges. So the numbers are estimates — the average of a member’s lowest and highest possible net worth. Their actual wealth is often higher because disclosures don’t include home values.
Despite some superwealthy members, Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution says Congress generally reflects the middle class.
“In many cases, the top 10% are self-made … and it reflects something that’s in the American psyche,” he says. “We’re not against people being rich. We just wish we were. But we are particularly attracted to people who made their own riches.”
Lawmakers’ wealth could resonate in 2012 elections — but only because of the poor economy and dysfunction of Congress, says Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute.
“Whenever you hit tough economic times, you have a surge in populism, and that takes the form of anger at members of Congress living high off the hog while the rest of us suffer,” Ornstein says.
“That’s why we’re here,” says Carl McClinton, 25, camping in a downtown Washington park as part of the Occupy D.C. protest. “The people making the laws are too comfortable. ”
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