|While McCaul was no pauper entering Congress, Roll Call had this to say in August 2011:
"The lion's share of McCaul's wealth is held by his wife, Linda McCaul, the daughter of Clear Channel Communications CEO and founder Lowry Mays, and his dramatic rise in net worth appears to be the product of generational wealth transfer.
A footnote to McCaul's newest report notes that "certain assets" owned by his spouse were "acquired via a gift from spouse's parents." The accounts were not identified.
On his financial disclosure, McCaul lists a new asset owned by his wife, the Linda McCaul Descendant Trusts, valued at more than $50 million. According to his report, that trust is invested in several other family partnerships.
McCaul likewise added two trusts under the ownership of his dependent children, including one trust valued at $25 million to $50 million and another at $1 million to $5 million.
Another of Linda McCaul's investment accounts also appears to double in value, moving from a minimum worth of $25 million to a minimum of $50 million."
Reports like this, which also note the holdings of various members of Congress in trusts, limited liability companies, and partnerships, give the lie to their rhetoric and reinforce several truths about public office holders, which burn, especially given the stances of Republican office holders.
It takes money to make money. If you're going to have sufficient connections in order to run for office, particularly federal office, the odds are that you are not slumming it. (There are exceptions: see now-ousted travesty and deadbeat dad Joe Walsh of Illinois).
No one begrudges the success of others merely because they are successful, or necessarily because they are wealthy. Indeed, running as a Democrat also implies some degree of financial comfort and security. (See Exhibit A - John Kerry; like McCaul, much of his wealth comes from his wife - is that a packet of Heinz ketchup you're holding as you read this and eat?)
The sting from Republican officeholders and candidates stems directly from burnishing their populist images as self-made, salt-of-the-earth small businessmen and women, as they play on populist, anti-wealth sentiments in order to get voters to vote down laws that are hindering them from becoming even wealthier. This is, of course, done in the name of giving those same voters the same route to wealth that these officeholders and candidates have
The truth is that their success came in (and because of) an era of government that is bigger than the vision of government they currently espouse, and that it often comes - as in the case of McCaul - from astute planning around generational wealth transfers. In short, they are locking up money and keeping it out of the broader economy. Even post-feudal England realized this was a bad idea - in the 1500's, they passed what ultimately became the rule against perpetuities to ensure that wealth absolutely had to transfer out of a family's hands in relatively short order and be injected back into the economy.
Moreover, many of these candidates and officeholders not only propagate this image of up-by-the bootstraps success stories and dangle them as bait for their voters, but they also hide several inconvenient truths to create false economic debates. There are two that are particularly odious, and both of which received a fairly public airing during last year's presidential race, as Mitt Romney's wealth became an issue.
The first problematic argument is that small businesses owners are staggering under the weight of oppressive taxes. That may be true in some cases. The problem with the argument is that the rhetoric is incomplete. Estimates vary, but reliable authorities including the Small Business Administration (SBA) (a service of your federal government) define small businesses as those between 250 and 500 employees. The SBA further defines banking institutions with up to $500 million in assets as small businesses. Not exactly the mom and pop shop down the street.
The second problematic argument generally concerns the top tax rate. For some reason, this becomes the lightning rod of debate upon debate. This doesn't matter, and here's why: 1) the top rate is a top marginal rate; it only applies to income above a certain level; any income below the rate is taxed at successively lower rates; 2) it applies only to ordinary income, not long term capital gains. The result is that while most populist voters are scrambling to create equity as to the top marginal tax rate for ordinary income, candidates and officeholders like McCaul, Issa, and Romney are realizing the bulk of their income through small business vehicles like limited partnerships with long term capital gains that have been taxed at low rates of only 15 or 20% (per the fiscal cliff deal at New Year's). They're not worried about the top marginal tax rate that applies to voters who may be making as much as $400,000. That's chump change to them; $400,000 is for suckers.
We don't care that you're wealthy. Just don't say you're just like the rest of us and pretend that policies that help you are the same policies that will help us. We all put our pants on one leg at a time - some of us just don't have hired help to do it for us.