WaPo Ignores Pelosi's 62% Jump in Net Worth, Obsesses Over Debts of Freshmen GOP Congressmen

June 16th, 2011 11:27 AM

Update (11:55 a.m. EDT): MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts just mentioned the 62% spike in Pelosi's net worth, attributing it mostly to her husband's real estate dealings.

As my colleague Noel Sheppard noted today, the media have largely ignored the fact that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has seen an astonishing 62 percent spike in her net worth over last year.

Yet in a June 16 page A3 story on the Wednesday release of congressional financial disclosure statements -- the very documents from which the Pelosi figure was calculated -- Washington Post reporters David Fahrenthold and Karen Yourish instead chose to focus on Republican freshmen congressmen with debt, hinting at hypocrisy for having campaigned on reining in spending in Washington (emphasis mine):


Members of the firebrand class of Republican freshmen on Capitol Hill — elected on a pledge to attack the U.S. debt problem — have, in some cases, accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in personal debt, according to financial documents released Wednesday.


Among the 87 new GOP members of Congress, the documents show, at least 30 had liabilities totaling $50,000 or more in 2010.


Those debts included large mortgages on investment properties, as well as student loans and credit card balances. At least seven freshmen had credit card debt exceeding $15,000.


The newcomers have helped press a simple GOP message about the public debt: The country has too much and must reduce its burden immediately. These documents seem to show that, in their private lives, some freshmen took a more nuanced view: Debt could be useful, when put toward furthering ventures in real estate, farming or other businesses.


The documents present the most complete financial picture to date of a group that promised to remake Washington with the values of the American heartland.


Judging from members’ bank accounts, the freshman class has elements of both places.


It has brought at least 24 new milionaires to a Congress that already had plenty. But many freshmen, like thousands of other Americans, entered 2011 with significant debt.


“If they’re responsible for their own personal finances, then they may have a mind-set to be frugal with the federal Treasury,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “But if they can’t keep their personal finances in order, then you have to wonder how they’re going to handle the federal budget.”


Among those with credit card debt was Rep. Blake Farenthold (Tex.), who has pressed for major action to control the national debt. Earlier this year, Farenthold issued a statement rejecting any increase in the debt limit without major spending cuts.


“Like the rest of America,” the statement said, ‘the government needs to tighten its belt and work within its means.”


Farenthold’s 2010 disclosure forms show credit card debt of $45,000 to $150,000. A spokeswoman for the congressman said she could not comment, because she had not located his accountant to discuss the filing.

Of course, hypocrisy on finances would cut both ways, correct?

Extraordinarily wealthy liberal Democrats such as Rep. Pelosi, who are clearly frugal with their own money, have a penchant for heavily spending the taxpayers' money and for opposing efforts to correct runaway entitlement spending. Yet that sort of hypocrisy was not addressed in the article by the Post reporters.

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