WEALTHY CONGRESSMAN IS ‘STRUGGLING LIKE EVERYONE ELSE’…. Montana’s Republican Senate candidate has to realize how foolish this sounds.

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), the 23rd richest member of Congress who owns millions of dollars in farm and ranch land, told an audience member at a town hall in Missoula yesterday that he and his wife “are struggling like everyone else” and that he’s “land rich and cash poor.”

“I’m a small businessman. My wife is a small businessman. You know she hasn’t taken a salary in ten years? She has not, as a result of the business, because we are struggling like everyone else … with the economy,” Rehberg said.

The notion of being “land rich and cash poor” — or in some areas, “house rich and cash poor” — is legit. A family may have wealth from real estate, but not a lot of money actually sitting in the bank. I get that.

But Rehberg’s case makes the argument hard to swallow. According to his own financial disclosure forms, the Republican congressman enjoys a net worth in upwards of $56 million. Out of 535 members of Congress, Rehberg is richer than more than 95% of his Capitol Hill colleagues.

I can appreciate his limited cash flow, but what I hope Rehberg — who routinely votes against the interests of the middle class and working families — can understand is that most families in Montana and nationwide don’t have this kind of vast wealth to lean on. They have limited cash flows and they don’t have millions of dollars in land.

As for the notion that Rehberg is “struggling like everyone else,” when your net worth is as high as $56 million, you’re not really struggling, and you’re not really like everyone else.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.