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People Are Taken Back by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Net Worth

There’s something about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

First, an Eddie Scarry tweet about how her clothing and bag “don’t look like a girl who struggles” got ratioed like few before it. Then a CNBC tweet meditating on the less than $7,000 in her savings account received similar backlash.

The 29-year-old democratic socialist and former bartender has been elected to represent New York’s 14th Congressional District — and she is perhaps the highest-profile incoming member of the next Congress. As such, almost everything about her is constantly under scrutiny, from her Instagram habits to her policy positions.

The average member of Congress has something like five times the net worth of the typical American household, so instead of talking about how little Ocasio-Cortez has in her bank account, it might be a good time to talk about how much her peers in Congress have in theirs.

A lot of Congress members are very rich

Ocasio-Cortez is the exception to the rule when it comes to the typical congressional profile: She’s a young woman, she’s Latina, and she comes from a pretty average background.

That’s not the case for most members of Congress. And yet, it’s her lack of wealth that we’re focusing on instead of a much bigger problem in US politics: the fact that it’s often prohibitively expensive for people to run for office, and so wealthy Americans are more likely to hold the reins in government.

Tanzania Vega, host of WNYC’s The Takeaway, in a series of tweets on Monday laid out just how well-off the average member of Congress is. The median net worth of all members of Congress was $511,000 in 2018, five times the median net worth of an American household of $97,300 in 2016, according to the Federal Reserve. The cumulative wealth of all current members of Congress was at least $2.43 billion.

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