1. Government by the wealthy.
2. A wealthy class that controls a government.
3. A government or state in which the wealthy rule.
Members of the US Congress had a collective net worth of more than $2 billion in 2010, a nearly 25 percent increase over the 2008 total (aggregate household worth increased just 12 percent).
90 percent of that increase is concentrated in the 50 richest Members of Congress who hold 80 percent of the net worth of the institution.
Among the richest, Reps. Mike McCaul (worth at least $294 million) and Darrell Issa (at least $295 million).
While wealth overall is scattered fairly evenly between the two parties, there is an interesting divide in the two chambers. Democrats hold about 80 percent of the wealth in the Senate; Republicans control about 78 percent of the wealth in the House.
These wealth totals vastly underestimate the actual net worth of Members of Congress because they are based on an accounting system that does not include homes and other non-income-generating property, which is likely to tally hundreds of millions of uncounted dollars.
Overall, 219 Members of Congress reported having assets worth more than $1 million last year; subtracting the minimum value of their liabilities brings the total number of millionaires in Congress down to 196 — again not counting any value on their homes or other non-income-producing property. If one were to assume that every Member of Congress has $200,000 worth of equity in real estate, the total number of millionaires would rise to 220 Members, just more than 40 percent of the Congress.
The average Member of Congress is far wealthier than the average U.S. household. For example, dividing the total wealth of Congress by the number of Members creates a mean (average) net worth for each Member of about $3.8 million (excluding non-income-producing property such as personal residences). By comparison, for the rest of the country, based on statistics released by the Federal Reserve, average household net worth is around $500,000 this year (including personal residences), according to David Rosnick, an economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
Alan Ziobrowski, a professor of real estate at Georgia State University, has produced studies of Congressional investment patterns indicating that lawmakers in both chambers tend to fare better in their investment portfolios than the average American, in part because "...there is no doubt in my mind that they are trading in some way on information that is there."