An exacting audit by Calleo (European Studies/Johns Hopkins) of the federal government's mismanagement of financial affairs, and of the resultant risks. Drawing on Washington's own data, Calleo explores how and why budget deficits have grown to levels that make them engines of national decline. He sheds light on a wealth of ad rem subjects--e.g., changes in spending priorities over the 1950-90 period; exploitation of the dollar's international stature (i.e., borrowing abroad to avoid domestic adjustments); manipulative monetary policies (which relied on inflation to underwrite fiscal shortfalls); and the grave implications of current fiscal trends in the context of likely demographic, geopolitical, and socioeconomic developments. The author also puts the country's income/outgo situation in perspective by comparing its not altogether analogous expenditure patterns after WW II with those of France and Germany. Calleo concludes that inefficiency and waste rather than excessively self-indulgent consumption are root causes of US problems, and he decries unregulated markets that, in his view, have proved wholly inadequate substitutes for a stable currency and allied common goods. While unpersuaded that a peace dividend will make any real contribution to genuine prosperity, Calleo remains sanguine on the prospects for US renewal. His remedial prescriptions, however, are appreciably less specific than his detailed diagnosis. If nothing else, though, Calleo's principled plea for a more rational balance between the power to govern and the capacity of special-interest groups to obstruct merits consideration, as does his unabashed appeal that the electorate and its leaders embrace the generous, visionary ideals that long made America a tower of economic strength and a beacon of hope. A challenging, fully documented tract addressing the overleveraged and frequently dysfunctional state of the union. The text brims with helpful tabular material.