12 June 2009

Money Management 101, by U.S. Senate

Money. We're all worried about it. The economy, our livelihood, debt and investments are what we're thinking about right now in this country.

Fortunately, our representatives in Washington know how to handle money. Or at least they know how to make money. The financial disclosure forms for both the House and Senate were released today and they show, in spite of the global recession and sharp drops in the value of both real estate and investments, top leaders in the United States Senate managed to make money. And now we can see how much.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who, not surprisingly, owns property in his home state, made some gains. In spite of some of the sharpest drop-offs in the real estate and mortgage industry being in centered in Southern Nevada, the senator's most valuable holding gained value.

The Senator owns a 55-acre lot formerly used for hard-rock mining just outside of Las Vegas, near Searchlight, which is his hometown. The property has now doubled in value.

A few years back, the property was valued at "just $250,000." Reid's aides say county officials reassessed its value at the close of 2008, and assessed its taxable value at between $500,000 and $1 million.

Meantime, the Republican leader is also doing well.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his wife, former labor secretary Elaine Chao, apparently have, or had anyway, a rich relative. A very rich relative. Don't envy them yet. Their relative died and left the McConnell-Chao's a family gift that was placed in a tax-exempt money market fund, worth between $5 million and $25 million. (Okay, now you can start the envy.)

That sounds weird, doesn't it? But the forms do not require lawmakers to reveal precise values of their assets, only broad ranges of their holdings. If it was me, I suppose I could submit a record that says "between $1 and $1 million." Of course, when you have fewer dollars to account for, it becomes easier to keep track.

By the way, Sen. McConnell and his wife also lost money in the downturn. Two years ago, their largest asset was a different fund estimated at "between $1 million and $5 million," but now it's worth "between $500,000 and $1 million." That's still more of a spread than I can understand.

Meantime, about 70 members of Congress have not turned in their financial records. They requested extensions on the May 15th deadline, and delayed the release of their financial records. No excuses asked for or offered.

Don't worry guys (and ladies). There's plenty of time for you to get those records turned in. We'll still be here. And we'll be interested.

No comments: