BY RICHARD L. FRICKER
No sooner had the Republican caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives unloaded the government shutdown from its circus train than Oklahoma’s Second District Congressman Markwayne Mullin announced he would not be drawing a salary during the shutdown.
This gesture appeared to be in solidarity with the 800,000 government workers and untold thousands of contract and adjunct government employees on furlough.
But it raised questions as to the disparity between those who put repeal of the Affordable Care Act [ObamaCare] above the welfare of their constituency. A quick comparison of the net worth of the “Average Oklahoman” – which includes the multimillionaires as well as students – shows the disparity gap as wide as the distance from the state’s poorest home to the Capitol steps in Washington, DC.
The average net worth of an Oklahoman is $56,400.
Rep. Mullin’s net worth is between $1,141,030 and $2,693,000, according to Ballotpedia.org, a non-partisan database of information of members of Congress.
It should also be noted that the same data places the average net worth of all Republican members of Congress – remembering they voted full strength to strip ACA of funding – to be $7,859,232.
Doubtless, one does not need to hold an MBA from Harvard to realize a net worth of $7 million-plus can be a lot better health care plan than $56,400. None of the Oklahoma delegation matches the average GOP congressional net worth, but neither also do they – with one exception – suggest the people’s representatives are missing any meals.
First District Rep. Jim Bridenstine is at the bottom of the pile with an average net worth of $38,002. However, that is based on previously having a net of minus-$138,994. The congressman’s fortunes appeared to have improved to a plus net of $214,999, thus providing the low average.
Across the state the congressional delegation appears to be fairing rather well on the financial seas.
Third District Rep. Frank Lucas managed to improve his fortunes from a minus -$264,990 to plus-$1,059,995 for an average net worth of $397,502 over the year, the economic hard times.
Fifth District Rep. James Lankford managed to improve his lot in life from a low net worth of $21,021 to $315,000 for an average net of $168,010, which, according to ballotpedia, is a 22.7% drop from the previous year.
But it is Fourth District Rep. Tom Cole, GOP Whip, that leads the money pack with an average net worth of $3,713,537. This is an average from between $2,036,074 to a high estimate of $5,391,000.
While none of these congressmen appear impoverished, and all have a net worth well above the Oklahoma average, all felt duty bound to allow the government to shut down and lay off workers as opposed to accepting ACA.
Oklahoma’s two senators, James Inhofe and Tom Coburn, also feel the need to thwart ACA.
Sen. Inhofe is listed as having a net worth between $5,419,048 and $17,461,000 for an average net of $11,440,024.
The average net worth of a GOP senator voting against the ACA is $6,358,668. This is slightly less than the average member of the House, but will still buy a lot of insurance, especially at a congressional discount.
Sen. Coburn, who has often used his anonymous hold to block bills for medical research, has a low net of $1,892,116 and a high of $5,512,000, leaving an average net worth of $3,702,058.
Using the numbers provided, the Oklahoma congressmen voting to strip ACA of funding have an average net worth of $1,246,813. In other words those wanting to abolish the health care bill for their constituency have a net worth 22 times greater than their voters, in addition to availing themselves and family to the same kind of insurance pool they oppose for their voters.
Meanwhile, the government shut down continues as hundreds of thousands of American workers wonder about their financial wellbeing. And ACA has launched to a response that has jammed phone lines and websites.
– Richard L. Fricker lives in Tulsa, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, The Last Day of the War, is available at https://www.createspace.com/3804081 or at www.richardfricker.com.