I’ve noticed that as the primaries heat up, all the Republicans are channeling the sainted Ronald Reagan. In the last debate before the South Carolina vote, Mitt Romney used the famous “shining city on a hill” line, and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels repeated it in his rebuttal to Obama’s State of the Union address. Somehow, it doesn’t sound quite as stirring coming from their mouths. They both strenuously object to Obama pointing out that there’s a huge and growing disparity in income and wealth in this country. Romney calls it the “politics of envy,” replacing the overused “class warfare.” What’s painfully obvious, no matter how much they deny it, is that the shining cities in this country now feature a gilded mansion on the hilltop occupied by the very rich, while the rest of us live in hovels down in the valley, many of which are in foreclosure.
Interesting story yesterday about how wide the economic gulf has become between members of Congress and their constituents. According to the New York Times, the median net worth of the folks in Congress grew 15 percent from 2004 to 2010, while the public saw its net worth drop 8 percent. Senators and representatives have always been richer than the average American, but the gap has grown precipitously in recent years. The average member of Congress has a net worth almost ten times that of the general public; half of all members are millionaires, and many are much, much wealthier than that. Why does this matter? Do you honestly sense that anyone in Washington genuinely empathizes with the people who are suffering in this economy? Does anyone there really understand what it’s like to lose a job, watch precious savings evaporate, be unable to afford health insurance, apply for job after job with no success, lose a home to foreclosure? You wouldn’t know it by the words and actions–or lack thereof–coming out of the nation’s capital.