Congress Richer, Americans Poorer

Members of Congress saw their net value go up during the recession.
3:00 | 12/27/11

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Transcript for Congress Richer, Americans Poorer
A powerful study today from the New York Times. Confirming something so many people have suspected members of congress are not only a lot richer than average Americans. They got -- still during the recession. As ordinary Americans saw their net worth go down 8%. Members of congress saw -- go up five for 15%. And why was that we SK ABC's anchor Dan Harris to track down the -- -- Democratic house leader Nancy Pelosi and millions are reportedly spent Christmas in -- 101000 dollar -- night hotel suite. In Hawaii and democratic Senator John Kerry worth 231. Million dollars provoked an uproar when he -- his seven million dollar yacht. In a neighboring state to avoid taxes. Republican congressman Darrell ice the richest member of congress it's worth nearly half a billion dollars. And then there's Republican congressman James Sensenbrenner who is already a multimillionaire. When he hit the lottery three times. Congress is pretty much evenly divided between red and blue but there is one color that is very much bipartisan and that is Green. Take the United States senate for example where there are 67. Millionaires including 37 of the Democrats and thirty the Republicans. The estimated median net worth of a US senator is two point 63 million dollars for a member of the house it's more than 750 grant. For the average American family 96000. I think that some people wonder if the average member of congress can relate. To the plight of the average American and two how much it costs to go out buy groceries or the grand tour patent life. So how and why are these politicians getting so fabulously rich. After all their base pay is a relatively modest 174000. A year. -- there are a couple of theories one is that since running a campaign has become so expensive it's become harder for average people to win. Another theory is that members of congress are profiting from the insider information they learn every day. The problem is that we have so much access to so much information that is not public that the temptation to abuse it to make a lot of money is there any -- Add to that it's almost impossible to Trace and further it's not illegal. You heard him correctly it is not illegal for members of congress to engage in this sort of insider trading after recent spate of bad publicity however. Whether 200 lawmakers have stepped up to support a long languishing bill that would make it illegal. That bill is supposed to come up for a vote. Next year we'll see if that actually happens.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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