The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

December 28, 2011

Why isn’t there an Occupy Congress movement in U.S.?

At a time when political parties and lawmakers want to debate wealth and class in our nation, it is interesting many of those same lawmakers are living the millionaire life.

A recent analysis by the New York Times found members of Congress have been fairly well insulated from the recession that has taken its toll on their constituents since 2008.

The wealth gap between lawmakers and their constituents appears to have grown even more significantly during the recession.

Of course, members of Congress traditionally have not been from a pauper society. From its early days, Congress was made up of land barons, agriculture tycoons and well-known wealthy families.

However, with the new debate on class warfare, the wealth gap suddenly has become more noticeable and stark since 2008, as members of Congress saw their wealth increase by about 15 percent on average while the typical American worker saw his or her wealth decline by about 20 percent.

It begs the question: Why there isn’t an Occupy Washington movement instead of an Occupy Wall Street movement.

The wealth is on both sides of the aisle, with both Democrat and Republican senators and representatives who are multi-millionaires, so it certainly is a bi-partisan issue.

We have known for a long time the longer a lawmaker stays in Washington, the more out of touch he or she seems to get when it comes to real people and actually making laws that affect the economy and real workers.

Once in Congress, members benefit from many financial perks most American’s don’t have. They get a base salary of $174,000 and extra pay for senior posts.

They get generous medical and pension benefits, as was evidence in the health care overhaul that didn’t include them.

 With this kind of mindset, it seems the so-called concern about the middle class is simply more lip service than reality from Congress.

Those who are so enthralled with the Occupy movement might not like a little of the same attention turned their way, but that’s exactly what needs to happen.

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