Most candidates don't seek high elected or appointed government posts with the sole intention of becoming rich from the earnings they receive from the U.S. federal government. While compensation for such offices as the U.S. president and others is very generous when compared with the average American's salary, most of these men and women would likely make more money in the private sector and often do.
Both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the current U.S. president and vice president, are very wealthy. In 1989, Bush invested $600,000 to become part owner of the Texas Rangers major league baseball team. When the team was sold in 1998, Bush earned at least $14.9 million from the deal, according to CNN. As the governor of Texas, Bush earned $115,345 annually. Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, an oil engineering company, from 1995 to 2000. In 2004 he recieved $194,852 in deferred compensation from Halliburton. His net worth is estimated to be at least $30 million, and in 2004, he reported $1.3 million in total income, compared to Bush's $672,788.
As president, Bush makes $400,000 and gets additional money in various expense accounts. Cheney makes $208,100 and also has expense accounts. In September 1999, President Clinton signed legislation that increased the presidential salary to $400,000, effective January 2001. The Constitution prohibits pay raises for sitting presidents. This presidential pay raise was the first since 1969, when the president's salary was raised from $100,000 to $200,000. Adjusted for inflation, $200,000 in 1969 would be worth $930,232 today. On top of the salary and expense accounts, both the U.S. president and vice president are given free housing with plenty of amenities. The White House has 132 rooms, 32 bathrooms, a movie theater, bowling alley, billiards room, tennis court, jogging track and putting greens. Bush also has use of Camp David, the presidential retreat. Cheney lives in Number One Observatory Circle, which has been the official vice presidential residence since 1974.
Congress receives frequent pay raises. Since 1989 a cost of living increase takes effect each year unless Congress votes against it. Pay for the average member of Congress has more than doubled in the past 20 years. For example, the average salary in 1983 was $69,800 and $141,300 in 2000. However, if you were to adjust the 1983 salaries for inflation, members of Congress made $119,708 in 2000. As of January 1, 2005, members of Congress make $162,100. The president pro tempore of the Senate and the majority and minority leaders of both houses are paid $180,100. The speaker of the House of Representatives makes $208,100.