One day after his shift at the steel mill, Gary Myers drove home in his 10-year-old Pontiac and told his wife he was going to run for Congress.
The odds were long. At 34, Myers was the shift foreman at the
“hot mill” of the Armco plant here. He had no political experience and
little or no money, and he was a Republican in a district that tilted
But standing in the dining room, still in his work clothes, he said he felt voters deserved a better choice.
Myers entered Congress, in 1975, it wasn’t nearly so unusual for a
person with few assets besides a home to win and serve in Congress.
Though lawmakers on Capitol Hill have long been more prosperous than
other Americans, others of that time included a barber, a pipe fitter
and a house painter. A handful had even organized into what was called
the “Blue Collar Caucus.”
But the financial gap between Americans
and their representatives in Congress has widened considerably since
then, according to an analysis of financial disclosures by The
Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House
more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures,
from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding
Over the same period, the wealth of an American
family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding
from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics
from the University of Michigan.