Friday, April 29, 2011

Rehberg: “I am land rich and cash poor”

The Montana Democratic Party posted a video on YouTube clip this morning from an event in Missoula in which Rehberg tells an attendee that he is “land rich and cash poor.”

An unidentified man asks Rehberg a question about his priorities--and presumably took a shot at Montana’s Republican Congressman for being rich because Rehberg references “gratuitous shots like ‘the rich like myself.’”

Here’s the clip, which I’ll discuss further below.

The tape is only clip so we don’t know what the full context of the man’s question was, but Rehberg was obviously irritated at being labeled “rich.” Democrats have repeatedly played the “rich” card and no-doubt will continue to play it throughout the 2012 Senate campaign as they try to draw distinctions between “Big Sandy Farmer” Sen. Jon Tester and “Millionaire Congressman” Denny Rehberg.

Since this is going to be one of the major sub-themes of the 2012 U.S. Senate Race, I’ll take a few minutes to look as just some of the fact available in the public record.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Tester’s net worth in 2009 was estimated at $602,004 to $1,280,000, which is well below the Senate average in 2009 of $13.4 million.

Rehberg’s net worth in 2009, according to the same source, was estimated at $6,598,014 to $56,244,997, which is well above the House average of $5 million.

According to the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the current salary for all Senators and Members is $174,000. The salary for the Speaker is $223,500 and the salary for the Majority and Minority Leaders is $193,400.

According to the USDA Department of Economic Research, the median household income in Montana in 2009 was $42, 222.

I doubt voters will feel much sympathy for Rehberg’s claim of being “land rich and cash poor,” because by Montana standards  one could argue both Tester and Rehberg are “rich.”

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