Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House has risen 2 1 / 2 times, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, rising from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars.
Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the median sliding from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan.
All figures have been adjusted for inflation and exclude home equity, which is not included in congressional reporting. The year 1984 was chosen because it was the earliest for which consistent wealth data were available.
The growing disparity between the representatives and the represented means that there is a greater distance between the economic experience of Americans and those of lawmakers.
“My mother and I used to joke we were like the Beverly Hillbillies when we rolled into McLean, and we really were,” said Michele Myers, the congressman’s daughter, now 46. “My dad was driving this awful lime green Ford Maverick, and I bought my clothes at Kmart.”