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Party of the rich: In Congress, it's the Democrats

By Stephen Ohlemacher

Associated Press

Published: Monday, March 31 2014 12:00 p.m. MDT

Republicans are the party of the rich, right? It's a label that has stuck for decades, and you're hearing it again. But in Congress, the wealthiest among us are more likely to be represented by a Democrat than a Republican.

Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press

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WASHINGTON — Republicans are the party of the rich, right? It's a label that has stuck for decades, and you're hearing it again as Democrats complain about GOP opposition to raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits.

But in Congress, the wealthiest among us are more likely to be represented by a Democrat than a Republican. Of the 10 richest House districts, only two have Republican congressmen. Democrats claim the top six, sprinkled along the East and West coasts. Most are in overwhelmingly Democratic states like New York and California.

The richest: New York's 12th Congressional District, which includes Manhattan's Upper East Side, as well as parts of Queens and Brooklyn. Democrat Carolyn Maloney is in her 11th term representing the district.

Per capita income in Maloney's district is $75,479. That's more than $75,000 a year for every man, woman and child. The next highest income district, which runs along the southern California coast, comes in at $61,273. Democrat Henry Waxman is in his 20th term representing the Los Angeles-area district.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco district comes in at No. 8.

Across the country, Democratic House districts have an average per capita income of $27,893. That's about $1,000 higher than the average income in Republican districts. The difference is relatively small because Democrats also represent a lot of poor districts, putting the average in the middle.

Democrats say the "party of the rich" label is more about policies than constituents.

During the 2012 presidential election, Republican nominee Mitt Romney declared, "We're not the party of the rich. We're the party of the people who want to get rich."

The famously wealthy Romney also uttered a more famous quote about the 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal income tax.

"My job is not to worry about those people," Romney said in a secretly taped speech at a private fundraiser. "I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

In the election, Romney carried only one income group: people making $100,000 or more, according to exit polls. But when it comes to Congress, the rich districts like their Democrats.

The 10 richest House districts:

New York 12

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Democrat

Per capita income: $75,479

California 33

Rep. Henry Waxman, Democrat

Per capita income: $61,273

New York 10

Rep. Jerry Nadler, Democrat

Per capita income: $56,138

California 18

Rep. Anna Eshoo, Democrat

Per capita income: $ 54,182

Connecticut 4

Rep. Jim Himes, Democrat

Per capita income: $50,732

Virginia 8

Rep. Jim Moran, Democrat

Per capita income: $50,210

New Jersey 7

Rep. Leonard Lance, Republican

Per capita income: $48,556

California 12

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Democrat

Per capita income: $48,523

New York 3

Rep. Steve Israel, Democrat

Per capita income: $47,991

Virginia 10

Rep. Frank Wolf, Republican

Per capita income: $47,281

Source: Census Bureau.

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