Average Salary: $174,000
Expected Lifetime Earnings: $2,088,000
The salary's good, but the work itself is what drives most public officials to seek office. Members of the Senate and the House make the same salary: $174,000 per year (source). The majority and minority leaders of both houses each make a little bit more, at $193,400.
Is that extra not-even-twenty-grand worth all the extra headaches of trying to keep your party members in line? Probably not, but the gig also comes with a lot of extra power—we'll get into that later.
The government gravy doesn't stop pouring even after you retire or get voted out of office. There's a pension plan with age and service requirements, but the least of those is a five-year term of service. A senator needs to only serve most of just one full term to qualify. Congress members are also eligible for Social Security benefits (source).
Current pensioners get between $35,000 and $60,000 a year. This may seem barely middle class, but we wouldn't worry about them: many senators also happen to be millionaires already, so it's really just a little extra icing for them.
In addition to all that cash, senators get their health care through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. That's right: while they're deciding whether or not to provide the rest of us with health care, they've already all voted to provide it for themselves. You know what else they get to decide? The amount of money U.S. Senators earn every year.
No real boss, six years of job security, access to some of the best government programs in the world, and you decide when you get a raise? It's good work if you can get it.