With the partial exceptions of health insurance and retirement benefits, We the People pay for the compensation of our elected representatives. We are literally their employers. Here is some info and stats to shed some light on this highly controversial topic in America. Bottom line, it seems like our elected officials get exponentially wealthy after being in office for years and this sad fact, to be fair, is not only due to their high salaries and benefits, but also due to a plethora of factors such as: insider info, lobby/special interest favors, corporate/banking kickbacks, etc… Check out the following wage/benefits and realize that there is much hypocrisy regarding how much WE are paying these officials and the pittance of ROI WE are receiving from electing them to represent our best interests despite attempts at justifying the high salaries. According to a recent Gallup poll in March, 2012, President Obama has a low 46% approval rating and 12 percent of Americans approve of the performance of Congress, and 82 percent give it a thumbs down. Are their salaries justified with this low rating?
Annual Salary of retired US Presidents ………….$450,000 FOR LIFE
Presidential Pension Information
The retirement benefits received by former Presidents include a pension, Secret Service protection, and reimbursements for staff, travel, mail, and office expenses. The Presidential pension is not a fixed amount, rather it matches the current salary of Cabinet members (or Executive Level I personnel), which is $191,300/year as of March, 2008 (but see “Salary Info” section above for advice on how to track increases in this figure).
If you are interested in more information on presidential pensions, an excellent resource on former Presidents’ retirement benefits is the Congressional Research Service PDF document called Former Presidents: Federal Pension and Retirement Benefits by Stephanie Smith [CRS Report for Congress 98-249 GOV].
Also, according to the United States Secret Service: Frequently Asked Questions page, legislation that Congress passed in 1997 (Public Law 103-329) made President Clinton the last president to receive secret service protection for the rest of his life. George W. Bush and all presidents after him will receive protection for 10 years after they leave office. To see the bill, search THOMAS on the Library of Congress website for more information on H.R. 4539. (The GPO Access page for Public and Private Laws does not have online records that go back far enough.)
Other federal officials, such as the Vice President, Cabinet members, and members of Congress do not have fixed salaries, but rather ones that can increase annually. These salaries are summed up for the years of 2003 to 2005 in an online document published by the Congressional Research Service called Salaries of Federal Officials by Barbara L. Schwemle [CRS Report for Congress 98-53 GOV].
Pension Information for Vice President and Other High Ranking Federal Officials
As with salaries, the rules governing the retirement benefits of the Vice President, Cabinet members, members of Congress and other federal officials are different than those that apply to the President, with benefits laid-out in the rules of the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Thus, their retirement benefits (including pensions) will vary from individual to individual, depending on factors such as years of service.
The following paragraph excerpted from the Congressional Research Service PDF document called Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress by Patrick J. Purcell [CRS Report RL30631] provides some idea of how much the pensions are for former Vice Presidents, Cabinet members, members of Congress and other federal officials. It provides averages for annual pensions given to retired members of Congress.
“As of October 1, 2006, 413 retired Members of Congress were receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service. Of this number, 290 had retired under CSRS and were receiving an average annual pension of $60,972. A total of 123 Members had retired with service under both CSRS and FERS or with service under FERS only. Their average annual pension was $35,952 in 2006.”
These Office of Personnel Management webpages explain FERS and CSRS:
You can also look at the US Code on “Civil Service Retirement” (Title 5, Part III, Subpart G, Chapter 83, Subchapter III).
Information on rules governing the retirement benefits of members of the federal judicial system can be found in the US Code at 28 USC Sec. 627 (Title 28, Part III, Chapter 42, Section 627).
Note that former Vice Presidents (unlike former Presidents) did not receive Secret Service protection until 2008. The U.S. Secret Service does not list them on either their Protective Mission page or their FAQ on “Who is the Secret Service authorized to protect?”.
A bill in 2008 by Congress (H.R. 5938) was passed and created specifically to amend Title 18 in the US Code so as to provide this protection to former Vice Presidents. Search THOMAS on the Library of Congress website for more information on H.R. 5938. Former Vice President, Dick Cheney, received secret service protection six months after his tenure.
Annual Salary of House/Senate members ……….$174,000 + right to vote on increase FOR LIFE
Annual Salary of Speaker of the House ………….$223,500 + FOR LIFE
Annual Salary of Majority/Minority Leaders …..$193,400 +FOR LIFE
Annual Average salary of a soldier DEPLOYED IN AFGHANISTAN – $38,000
Annual Average income for seniors on SOCIAL SECURITY – $12,000
Our soldiers who protected and defended our liberty and freedom deserve a higher salary that is at least close to a public employee’s salary/benefit package including better health coverage. Same goes for our seniors who have worked so hard during their lives only to receive a below the poverty line annual SS income? This is an outrage and so unfair! All should agree that cuts should first be made in our elected officials salaries and then continue on to other wasteful spending from there to mitigate the wage disparity that exists. Until this happens, there is no rational reason for our elected officials to propose related bills that affect us whether it is raising taxes and increasing spending or cutting taxes and cutting spending! This will not solve our massive money woes, however, it will, indeed, set an example.