NBC NATIONAL NEWS — While most Americans have gotten poorer in the last few years, a new study finds that members of congress have done quite well.
Since 2004, the median net worth of members of Congress is up 15%, while the median net worth for all Americans is down 8%.
"When you have nearly half of congress being millionaires, it's easy to see how the gap in understanding and credibility can grow between congress and the people they're trying to represent," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virigina Center for Politics.
Members of Congress only have to report broad ranges of assets.
All four congressional leaders appear to be millionaires some many times over.
Democrat Nancy Pelosi's worth between $6 and $196 million.
Republican Mitch McConnell between 10 and 44 million.
Democrat Harry Reid between 3 and 10 million.
Speaker John boehner has the least money between $2 and $6 million.
One explanation for the increasing wealth in congress is that running for office takes so much time and money, it favors wealthy candidates.
But there's also evidence that politicians are getting richer while in office. Professors at Georgia State found that both senators and congressmen did significantly better than the market when they traded stocks.
"They're in a position to do great things for themselves and theres a lot of evidence that suggests that thats exactly what they're doing," said Professor Alan Ziobrowski, of Georgia State University.