They Control the Nation's Purse Strings - Can They Balance Their Checkbook?

by Gerri Willis

You know the last year was a rough one for the economy. If your finances took a hit, you're certainly not alone! Not even our most powerful politicians were spared.

That's according to the latest financial disclosures from Congress.

One of the hardest hit? Nancy Pelosi.

The House's top Democrat saw her reported net worth shrink by eight and a half million dollars in the last year, but you don't have to feel bad.

Her net worth is still nearly 26 and a half million dollars!

And while her disclosures show her investments overall lost money, here's one healthy part of her portfolio.

Pelosi made at least $50K selling the grapes harvested at her Saint Helena, California vineyard.

That's as much as ten times what she sold two years ago!

But real estate doesn't work out for everyone. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the proud owner of 160 acres in Bullhead City, Arizona. Now valued at $250K. But just two years ago it was worth a cool million.

In all, Senator Reid saw his minimum net worth drop $800K last year.

Really, things look better for leadership on the other side of the aisle. Speaker of the House John Boehner did see his net worth drop $400K, from over two million to $1.7M, but the man carries no debt, and most of his money is invested in an I.R.A.

That's what I call fiscally responsible!

Here's the great thing about these financial disclosures. It's a window into the financial acumen of the people in charge of the national check book.

Check this out. A number of lawmakers took advantage of record-low mortgage rates, and refinanced on million-dollar properties, saving themselves a bundle.

In fact, Senator Lamar Alexander refinanced four mortgages in Nashville, worth at least three and quarter million.

However, when you consider the size of our national debt, I don't think you'll be surprised to hear a number of legislators seem to have a problem with credit card debt.

New York Congressman Steve Israel has at least $60K in credit card debt.

Alabama Congressman Joe Bonner has $45K.

Senators Cantwell and Cornyn both fessed up to $15K.

And for Senator Cornyn, he's paying a 17% interest rate. Ouch!

But we don't have reports for everyone on Capitol Hill. 89 House members and 17 Senators got extensions to file their disclosures, including many of the richest. From Darrel Issa to John Kerry.

But based on what this group reported last time, I don't think we have to be worried about them going hungry anytime soon.

If you're anything like me - sick and tired of the government getting in the way of your business, sticking its nose where it doesn't belong - these disclosure records are your opportunity to get some revenge.

Log on and take a close look at your representative.

Happy snooping!