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Justin Webb, the BBC's former North America Editor, regards the United States with affection and respect. But he is worried that America is in denial about the extent of its financial problems and therefore incapable of dealing with the gravest crisis the country has ever faced.
A decade of tax cuts and increased public spending took the United States from an era of budget surpluses to one of growing deficits. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that federal debt could reach 90 per cent of GDP within a decade. The nation's partisan political culture, argue some, means its leaders are incapable of taking the necessary action to avert financial disaster and a loss of international influence.
Justin Webb examines the consequences of failing to deal with the growing debt and looks for any signs that the United States might start to tackle its problems before it is too late.
Interviewees include Diane Coyle, David Frum, Richard Haass, Jeffrey Sachs and Anne Applebaum.
Producer: Bill Law.