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Issa tops long list of millionaires in Congress

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By USA Today
Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, 9:12 p.m.

WASHINGTON — In a week dominated by politicians' talk about income inequality, a new tally shows that most members of Congress are millionaires.

Of 534 lawmakers on Capitol Hill, at least 268 had an median net worth of $1 million or more in 2012, the analysis by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics found. That's up from 257 members — or about 48% of lawmakers — in 2011 and marks the first time that a majority of politicians on Capitol Hill were in the millionaire's club.

The richest lawmaker: Rep, Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who oversees the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and made a fortune in his car-alarms business. The center calculates his average net worth at $464 million.

Senators generally are better off than House members, with an average net worth of $2.7 million in the Senate compared with $896,000 in the House.

It's impossible to know exactly how much money lawmakers have. They are required to report their assets in broad ranges only.

Real estate is the most popular investment vehicle, valued at between $442.2 million and $1.4 billion. For lawmakers dabbling in the stock market, General Electric was the most popular stock pick. Seventy-one lawmakers owned shares in the company last year.

The analysis was released as officials in both parties are putting a spotlight on income disparities.

Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's State of the Union address declaring “war on poverty.” President Obama is expected to talk about income inequality in his annual address to Congress this month as Democrats sound populist themes ahead of November's congressional midterm elections. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., outlined his anti-poverty proposals this week, which include consolidating federal anti-poverty money into “flex funds” that could be transferred to states.

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