-- Fifty-seven members, or roughly 11%, of Congress can count themselves among the top 1% of wealth, with an estimated net worth of $9 million, according to a USA TODAY analysis of personal financial disclosures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
"We are the 99%" has become a rallying cry for protesters at Occupy Wall Street and similar demonstrations across the country, calling attention to the disproportionate wealth controlled by the top 1% of American households.
Congress's top 1% include Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. (estimated net worth: $448.1 million); Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas ($380.4 million); Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. ($231.7 million); Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. ($192.7 million); and Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. ($143.2 million).
Stephen Hess, a Brookings Institution fellow and author of America's Political Dynasties, says the super-wealthy in Congress overshadow the fact that Congress "generally reflects the nation's middle class."
"In many cases, the top 10% are self-made … and it reflects something that's in the American psyche, too. We're not against people being rich. We just wish we were. But we are particularly attracted to people who made their own riches," Hess says. "Being rich doesn't necessarily mean that they have views that are somehow skewed."
Measured by wealth, the cutoff for the top 1% of households is about $9 million, according to New York University economist Edward Wolff, citing the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances.
Congress includes 249 millionaires, the data show. The median wealth: $891,506, almost nine times the typical American household.
Measured by income, congressional salaries alone don't put lawmakers in the 1%. Most congressmen and senators make $174,000 a year in salary, and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, gets $223,500. The top 1% of Americans make at least $350,000 annually, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.
The 2010 personal financial disclosures filed by members of Congress reveal their assets and liabilities only in broad ranges. So the Center for Responsive Politics numbers are estimates — the average of the member's lowest and highest possible net worth. Using the minimum and maximum numbers, there are as few as 31 one percenters in Congress, or as many as 88.
The actual net worth is often much higher, because the disclosures don't include the value of their primary home.