One of the most important aspects of political leadership is accurately framing an issue so that the populace can understand what is at stake and choose accordingly. Unfortunately, this aspect of leadership often comes into conflict with getting elected. In no area is that more clear than medical care and retirement savings. Providing for lifetime medical care and adequate retirement income are issues that have to be addressed early in life and monitored continually. By the time old age arrives it is typically too late to adjust. For that reason, people need a clear understanding of what the government can be expected to provide and what it will cost. Because estimating these costs and benefits is complicated, particularly at a national level, it is not something that individuals can do for themselves. They rightly turn to their political leaders to present the trade-off.
It is here that leadership, both Republican and Democratic, has failed at all levels of government. With changing demographics, increasing life expectancy, and improving medical technology, we have some very difficult decisions to make regarding the allocation of resources. For example, how much should the working young be expected to pay for the retired elderly? The unfortunate fact is that with a few exceptions these issues have not be accurately depicted by those running for elected offices. Governmental organizations from small cities to the federal government have made a host of promises regarding retirement and medical care that cannot possibly be fulfilled. As a result, we will need even stronger more forthright leaders in the future. Now we face the prospect of first telling people that the promises on which they based lifelong plans cannot be honored as a precursor to deciding what type of commitments can reasonably be fulfilled.