A Congressional Report Card on Inequality

The gap between rich and poor continues to widen. How did that happen? Who is to blame?

Congress – more than any other institution – writes the rules that determine how our economy operates. Lawmakers – in other words – have the power to make sure all Americans, not just a privileged few, share in the wealth we all create together.

The Institute for Policy Studies decided to look at Congress’s role in adopting rules that either increase or reduce economic inequality in America. Their newly published Congressional Report Card for the 99% examines 40 Congressional actions over the last two years and grades Members of Congress on their votes and bill sponsorship activity. [See link below]

Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas took up their places in inequality detention hall for their chamber-leading low scores reflecting their tireless work on behalf of America’s most privileged. They were among the 48 members of the House of Representatives and 11 senators who earned an “F” on their Inequality final exam. The Arkansas delegation nailed a collective D-.

In contrast, Vermont’s lawmakers earned straight A’s, yielding the Green Mountain State a perfect 4.0 average. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island joined House colleagues Barbara Lee of California, Yvette Clarke of New York and Jim McDermott of Washington in taking home the biggest gold stars on their report cards, each having earned the highest marks for support of the 99 percent.

One key finding was that Republican Members of Congress were more unified around an agenda favoring the 1%, than Democrats were around an agenda for the 99%.

To see how your elected officials scored and learn more about the results of the study, visit the Report Card’s webpage. Send your Senators and Representatives a note of congratulations or a wish that they raise their grades next year.

Author: Scott Klinger, Policy Director of Wealth for the Common Good and Co-Author of the Congressional Report Card for the 99%.