What would I do to fix the mess in Washington if I were in our nation's capital?

First, I should say that there's a certain arrogance whenever anyone tackles this question; the answers look a lot easier from a distance than if you were there! Having said that, let's face it: Most politicians are just salespeople. They just want the sale and they want people to smile at them. But we're not at a "smile at 'em" kind of time in American history.

Sometimes demographics are looked at as destiny. And the demographics have caught up with us. We have an aging population at the same time that health care consumes 20 cents of every dollar in the United States. By contrast, the next of our nearest competitors that we vie against for international jobs and factories spend only 10 cents of every dollar of their output of goods and services on health care.

Then you look at how much of our 20 cents is coming from government and private employers. That means the big missing part of the equation is transparency. We don't have the free market working in how we handle health care in the United States.

So if I was in charge, I would take health care out of hands of employers and government. Each individual would be responsible for buying his or her own policy, if they wanted to. That way, we would become consumers again, shopping for the best deals.

We have to get to where the choice of health care is a decision we make. The elderly and those of low income would get a voucher to go shop for coverage on their own. But since we're not doing it like this, we have removed capitalism from 20 percent of our economy…and that is not sustainable.

If America is going to reduce how much money government spends and we are going to reduce the amount of money spent on an unproductive sector of the economy (no offense to anyone in the medical profession,) we have to change whole system so you and I become a customer.

All the talk in Washington you heard before the debt ceiling was raised was about fractions of a penny, when we need to talk about big dollars over time.

Meanwhile, Social Security is not broken and for the most part remains fundamentally sound. The real problem, and what gobbles up your and my money inefficiently, is health care. You get your arms around health care, you get your arms around the federal budget.

So if you send me to D.C., that is what I would do. Am I running for office? No way, not any day!

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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