Government jobs are the epitome of middle class employment, but a handful of federal employees have salaries that put them well above that. It’s all public information. The president’s salary is $400,000, but he is not the highest-paid employee. According to OpenTheBooks.com, there are three doctors, all working for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who out-earn the U.S. president with 2019 incomes ranging from $406,000 to $417,608. The top salary goes to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.
Two other NIH doctors, John H. York and Gary H. Gibbons, were the other two federal employees who made more than the president in 2019. Dr. York is a medical officer with the Indian Health Services in New Mexico, and Dr. Gibbons is director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.
In general, government policy is that the president will be the highest-paid employee. However, a president can only serve for eight years total. The employees who earn more not only have specific expertise, they also have tenure with the government and have received annual raises.
After the president, there are thousands of doctors working at Veterans Affairs who make less than $400,000 but more than the next most highly paid occupation, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. John Roberts made $270,700 in 2019, while the associate justices made $258,900.
The ranking includes more doctors and a few attorneys before arriving at the $235,100 earned by Vice President Mike Pence in 2019. Below that are the Cabinet secretaries, who earn $192,300, and the chairs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who earn $187,000. Members of both houses of Congress earn $174,000 per year, except for the minority and majority leaders, who earn $193,400, and the speaker of the House, who earns $223,500.
Everyone gets health insurance, paid vacation and access to a retirement plan. Some of these jobs come with great prestige and perquisites. VA physicians receive compensation in line with private-sector salaries, which is necessary to attract a skilled team to care for veterans. People who serve on the Supreme Court could probably earn more in the private sector, but no nominee is going to turn down the appointment because of the pay.
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