The Washington Post – for years the bête noir of conservatives – has been trying to reverse its plunging profitability with a new slogan: "If you don't get it, you don't get it." However, it seems that the only ones who "don't get it" work at the Post.
This week, the Post features its latest effort on behalf of income redistribution and socialism, entitled "Growing wealth widens distance between lawmakers and constituents." The gist of the piece is that congressmen who come to Congress with personal wealth are more likely to oppress the masses than those hailing from more honorable poverty. The greatest offenders, of course, are the more recently elected prosperous Republicans. The inference in this article, along with forests-worth of other Post pabulum, is that these new, rich Philistines have upset the bipartisan entente which existed in our nation's capital for decades, causing the advent of a stygian nightmare called "divisiveness."
In a way, they are right: The wealthy Republicans – along with the not-so-wealthy Republicans – have overturned decades of Democrat domination, abetted by Republican pusillanimous capitulation, which laid the foundation for virtually every fiscal disaster we now encounter. Sure, they got along in the Congress in those days, but it was at our expense.
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While busy complaining that new Republican congressmen are too rich, nothing is said of the vast wealth of the affluent Democrats, such as multimillionaire statesmen John Kerry, John Rockefeller, Mark Warner, Diane Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi. How often did the Post complain about the disparity between the wealth of the Kennedys and the average congressman?
The Post is engaged in a most parlous game, favored by the Democrats and its liberal allies – class envy. Assuming these wealthy congressmen did not make their fortune through illegal or immoral means, why should it be held against them? It shouldn't, of course, unless one's world view is shaped by Karl Marx. The appeal to populist envy of the rich is both dangerous and hypocritical, especially coming from Democrats – who more likely to be supported by the super rich – and their party broadsheet, the Washington Post.
What is even more pathetic about the Post's approach to congressional nabobs is that it misses entirely the issue that really does raise the hackles of most Americans: our representatives cashing in on their public service. Is it more meaningful to our republic that certain congressmen come to office from wealth, or that far too many arrive with a net worth under $100,000 and leave with a net worth sometimes in the tens of millions of dollars?
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Some of this newfound wealth is derived from odious activities, such as insider trading. Members of Congress and their staffs are privy to information of immense value to investors. Many congressmen wouldn't consider monetizing that information, but not every elected official in Washington is part of that group. Far too many trade on this information and profit greatly. An even greater number feels no compunction against sharing this information with their donors and allied lobbyists. Indeed, an entire industry has emerged in our nation's capital whose sole function is to collect economic intelligence and sell it to Wall Street.
If they were just using insider information to buy securities, it's likely that our fortune-seeking parliamentarians wouldn't amass the kind of wealth that would likely draw our interest, but it doesn't end there. As she stood like a deer in the "60 Minutes" headlights, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi was confronted with the "friends and family" stock options she acquired from credit card company Visa. Thanks to author Peter Schweitzer's shocking book, "Throw Them All Out," America learned how Pelosi made millions from these options while delaying credit card reform. Former Speaker Pelosi has attained high office, but few who have met her describe her as an innovative thinker. Indeed, scores of members figured this scam out before her, and many are probably engaged in it right now.
Another favorite of the congressional Croesus is the clever use of transportation and infrastructure legislation. Knowing how the game works, one would think that only unseemly part of these pork-laden bills is how congressmen use them to get buy votes in their districts. But our political leaders don't think like mere mortals. They use their knowledge of infrastructure improvements to enrich themselves. Ever wonder who owns the land near that new highway exit? Sometimes it's the same fellow you just sent to represent your interests in Washington.
Yes, there is a problem with congressional wealth, but the wealth we should worry about is not that which was earned before the legislator arrived in Washington. It's the lucre they accumulate while on our payroll, which rankles our nation and which the Washington Post ignores. Why? Because they just don't get it.