Working for the government is often referred to as public service. The term implies sacrifice or taking less than what could be earned in the private sector or in an entrepreneurial position. Many government workers seem overpaid but are probably underpaid when you consider the scope of their responsibilities. Indeed, many in the private sector would not want to stand up to the scrutiny required of a top public service job or to get elected to public office.
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The salary of the President of the United States is actually a token sum considering the responsibilities of the office. Still, officials in other public service jobs seem egregiously overpaid. People who hold these jobs are "set for life" after their public service ends because they are in demand for paid speaking gigs, memoirs and consulting roles in private industry.
24/7 Wall Street has gathered data from many public sources to ferret out how much these top government officials earn. Salaries of some jobs are shielded from public scrutiny because of national security reasons. We did not consider the healthcare and retirement packages, security and transportation benefits and more. In some cases, our public service executives have actually taken considerable pay cuts to serve.
One thing also needs to be considered here. Some government salaries are actually shielded under executive order. Some of the shielded pay grades may be well into the hundreds of thousands or even more. Some information, intelligence, and cloak and dagger positions are shielded and above our pay grade when it comes to identifying how much they are.
10. Secretary of State: Hillary Clinton
Annual Base Salary: $186,600
Maximum Job Length: Generally 8 Years
Previous Job: Senator From New York
Job Description: The Secretary of State is appointed by the president to serve as chief diplomatic representative of the U.S. Besides overseeing all State Department operations, including the operations of the U.S. embassies and representation in the UN, Secretary of State Clinton is responsible for the foreign operations of the CIA, the Defense Department, and the Department of Homeland Security. Clinton is also fourth in the chain of succession for presidency.
9. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner
Annual Base Salary: $191,300
Maximum Job Length: Generally 8 years
Previous Job: President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Job Description: Appointed by the President, the Secretary of the Treasury serves as the principal economic advisor for the President. According to the Department of the Treasury: "The Secretary is responsible for formulating and recommending domestic and international financial, economic, and tax policy, participating in the formulation of broad fiscal policies that have general significance for the economy, and managing the public debt." Geithner is a proxy for many other presidential cabinet members, who make the same amount, including Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
8. Senate Majority Leader: Harry Reid
Annual Base Salary: $193,400
Maximum Job Length: Indefinite, usually 4-8 years, or until Senate changes hands
Previous Job: Governor of Nevada
Job Description: The Senate Majority Leader did not exist until the beginning of the 20th century. According to the U.S. Senate website: "The leader must keep himself briefed and informed on national and international problems in addition to pending legislative matters. On the floor of the senate he is charged by his party members to deal with all procedural questions in consultation with them and his party's policy-making bodies." Additionally, Reid must be in contact with all of the various committees and maintain a line of communication between them and the senate. This position stands as proxy for the minority and majority leaders in both the Senate and House, who all make the same amount.
7. Chairman of the Federal Reserve: Benjamin Bernanke
Annual Base Salary: $199,700
Maximum Job Length: 14-28 years
Previous Job: Professor of Economics at Princeton
Job Description: The Chairman of the Federal Reserve is in charge of the Federal banking system of the U.S. As head of the fed, Bernanke dictates and explains the direction of U.S. fiscal policy and works with the Department of the Treasury.
6. Chief Justice of Supreme Court John G. Roberts
Annual Base Salary: $217,400
Maximum Job Length: Life
Previous Job: Judge on the Washington, D.C. Court of Appeals
Job Description: As the Chief Justice of the nine-member Supreme Court, Roberts is the head of the U.S. Federal court system, and is effectively the Leader of the Judicial branch of the government. The Chief Justice is the spokesperson for the court, deciding who writes its opinions. Roberts is also responsible for setting the court's agenda.
5. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Admiral Michael Mullen
Annual Base Salary: $220,734.36
Maximum Job Length: 8 Years
Previous Job: Chief of Naval Operations
Job Description: While the president is technically the commander of the U.S. Armed Forces, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — the combined panel of the Army, Air Force, and Navy — is the functional leader of the military. The Chairman is appointed by the President.
4. Speaker of the House: John Boehner
Annual Base Salary: $223,500
Maximum Job Length: Potentially Unlimited, Generally 4-8 Years
Previous Job: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives From Ohio
Job Description: The Speaker of the House does not legally need to be a member of the House of Representatives, but there has never been a speaker appointed from outside the legislative branch. The speaker is third in line for the presidency. The speaker's role includes presiding over the house and setting his party's agenda. This position stands as proxy for the House Minority Leader, who makes the same amount.
3. Vice President: Joseph Biden
Annual Base Salary: $227,300
Maximum Job Length: 8 Years
Previous Job: Senator from Delaware
Job Description: While the Vice President of the United States is the second-in-command of the executive branch, and aids the president in all of his bureaucratic and diplomatic efforts. The VP is also officially the President of the Senate, and presides over all meetings, although his only important role is to serve as the tiebreaker in the event of a voting deadlock. Vice President Biden is also next in line for the presidency should Obama die or become incapacitated.
2. Postmaster General: Patrick R. Donahoe
Annual Base Salary: $245,000
Maximum Tenure: 8 years
Previous Job: A number of executive positions in the U.S. Postal Service
Job Description: Donahoe is the leader of the U.S. postal service, a position which is older than the U.S. Constitution. Once a presidential cabinet position, appointments for the position now come from within the service. Donahoe helps set postal rates and services, and oversees all major regulation changes.
1. President: Barack Obama
Annual Base Salary: $400,000
Maximum Job Length: 8 Years
Previous Job: Senator from Illinois
Job Description: The President is the head executive branch, the Commander in Chief of the armed forces, and the nation's leader and figurehead. Obama is responsible for a great number of bureaucratic appointments and nominations, and many of the people on this list are put in place by the president.