Rep. Darrell Issa of California, who is reportedly one of the wealthiest members of Congress, says poor people in the U.S. are envied around the world.
The Republican congressman was asked by CNN host Cristina Alesci if he felt any need to address income inequality in the U.S. (video below).
After saying, "Absolutely," Issa quickly changed the topic to developing countries:
"America is the richest country on earth because we've been able to put capital together and we've been able to make our poor somewhat the envy of the world.
"If you go to India or you go to any number of other Third World countries, you have two problems: You have greater inequality of income and wealth. You also have less opportunity for people to rise from the have-not to the have."
Alesci later told Issa, "I don’t think the comparison really is one we want to make. We don’t want to compare ourselves to India, we want to set the bar pretty high...”
Issa interrupted, "Why shouldn’t we? I appreciate your comment, but you’re wrong. You do have to compare yourself with the rest of the world. We compete with the rest of the world."
He didn't identify who the "we" are, but talked about producing cars and other products the U.S. "in spite of our high cost of labor."
Issa didn't mention that many U.S. corporations choose not to hire Americans, but hire the cheapest labor — sometimes slave labor — in countries that allow dangerous working conditions. U.S. companies also insource less expensive labor by laying off American workers to hire foreign workers who are in the country on a H-1B visas and by using inexpensive — sometimes free — prison labor instead of law-abiding Americans.
Unlike Issa, Pew Research Center did address domestic income inequality in 2014 with a new study and found: "America’s upper-income families have a median net worth that is nearly 70 times that of the country’s lower-income families, also the widest wealth gap between these families in 30 years."
CNN reported in 2013 that several nations are ahead of the U.S. in upward economic mobility: Pakistan, France, Japan, Canada and Denmark.
The Washington Post reported in 2014 that several economists found in a study that U.S. economic mobility hasn't changed in half a century: "If you are growing up poor today, you appear to have the same odds of staying poor in adulthood that your grandparents did."
The Center for Responsive Politics noted in January that Issa was worth $448.4 million in 2013.