In the next few weeks, the United States will be focused on deﬁcit reduction. Analytically, the task of deﬁcit reduction is simple: cu!ing expenditures and raising taxes. Politically, the task of deﬁcit reduction is enormously difficult, for each cut in expenditure or increase in taxes hurts someone, and typically, some powerful group. ... What matters is not the deﬁcit itself or the
short-run national debt, but long-run levels of the national debt. The country should be looking at its national balance sheet. Debt reﬂects only the liability side. In assessing the economic strength of a ﬁrm, no one would look just at its liabilities; they would also look
at its assets. The single-minded focus on deﬁcits and short-run debt is thus fundamentally misguided.