Mr. Rockefeller Goes to Washington

Congress' studied effort at ignoring the Occupy movement isn't that surprising when you take a look at legislators' tax returns: Many representatives sit comfortably in the 1 percent. Between 1984 and 2009, the median income of members of the House ballooned from $280,000—an already impressive figure—to $725,000, according to the new Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan. An analysis of the study in The Washington Post did not include figures for the Senate. In comparison, the median income of an American family has slipped from $20,600 to $20,500 over the same time period. No wonder that Congress was squeamish about passing a millionaire surtax or signing on to support the protesters in Zuccotti Park.

This congressional income gap partly reflects how expensive it is to run a campaign: the price of a successful bid for a seat in the U.S. House has quadrupled to $1.4 million since 1976. Unless Congress takes another stab at campaign finance—or, at the risk of hurting themselves and their donors, takes measures against rampant income inequality—the gulf between the governors and the governed isn't likely to change anytime soon.
 

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CHART OF THE DAY

 

Economic confidence is ending this year at its highest level since June, and 20 percentage points higher than in December 2008. However, confidence is lower than it was the past two Decembers, a hint that the public is becoming more cautious about the economy getting back on track. 

 
 

REASON TO GET OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING

The economy is ending on an optimistic note in the United States, and growth may have even accelerated in the final quarter. Confidence is growing, people are buying, and manufacturing output and house building are also rising.
 

 

Comments

Re Rockefellers in Congress: The statistic cited is for net worth (wealth), not income. Still appalling, but different. Median household incomes have in fact gone up over that time, a little, and are about 49,000 currently.

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