What our federal government has promised as benefits cost more than the taxes we have coming in. And as we age as a nation, the government obligations for health care will skyrocket.

New estimates from the Congressional Budget Office show that even though budgets peaked back in 2011, the deficit will keep shrinking through 2015. But after that, it is ugly red ink year after year. By the mid 2020s, the numbers just look gross.

Our obligations for health care will lead to a $63 trillion hole in the budget.

So you'll hear a lot of sound and fury in Washington over the next weeks about this issue. But if we really want to deal with the problem head on, we have to address what it is we want government to do for us, what we are willing to do for ourselves, and how we'll pay for what we want government to do for us.

There is no Santa Claus who will rain money onto us to deal with this. We have to deal with it ourselves.

This is a relatively simple issue that politicians put into confusing boxes so they can avoid talking about the cost for health care. This has nothing to do with applause lines about cutting government waste. That's not going to get the job done.

The crux of the question is this: Do we break the social contract with the people that government has promised benefits to? Or do we keep the same level of benefits and pay much higher taxes? Or are you willing to be on your own, at least partially, in exchange for lower taxes?

The one thing we can't do is what we're doing now -- bringing in fewer tax dollars than what we're spending.

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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