What ails America is obvious. You will never hear it from the media, academia or the US government.
We have the Japan disease.
Japan had a huge asset bubble, probably caused by its central bank but definitely caused by its government. Rents per square foot in Tokyo prime districts exceeded rents anywhere on earth. Homes were selling with 50 year (two generation) mortgages. A twelve year old son was on the hook for payments the rest of his productive life.
When, as is always, the bubble burst, banks and everyone owning assets faced staggering losses. Real estate, stock, bonds, everything. The government, being the agent of the status quo, stepped in to stem the losses of the elite. No Japanese bank or large conglomerate failed. That is what happened in the USA. When the financial system imploded from bad loans and other obvious crimes the Federal Reserve bought a trillion dollars worth of worthless real estate securities to stop one bank after another from failing.
Great, few financial institutions failed. We got instead the Japenese economy. If you try to run capitalism where whoever has a profitable business is guaranteed to continue in business, you get frozen capital, misapplication of resources and stagnation. Thirty years and counting for Japan, Inc.