Posted at 01:38 PM ET, 05/16/2011

Debt ceiling, deficit solution: Epic federal yard sale? (#USAforSale)


(By Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)
Imagine if the federal government decided to sell some of its assets. It would be an epic garage sale. Interstate highways, sturdy brick buildings, and gold. Lots of gold.

As legislators grapple with a ballooning deficit and squabble over raising the nation’s debt ceiling, some are suggesting that the U.S. take stock of its assets and consider putting our collective things up for sale.

While some argue that tax increases — especially those aimed at the wealthiest Americans — will go a long way toward paying down the deficit, The Post’s Joel Achenbach reports that many conservative and libertarian economists say it’s time for the government to set some things on the curb (like rail service and air traffic control) and strike a deal.

Our roads

Economist Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute thinks private tollways would lead to better roads. Hundreds of billions of dollars could be raised through highway privatization. He said:

“Many of the world’s roads were originally built as toll roads, so it would hardly be revolutionary to return to that model. If it can work for the River Styx, why not the Beltway?”
Our gold

The Obama administration believes there’s about $370 billion worth of gold reserves at Fort Knox. The administration says it needs to borrow $125 billion per month to keep things running.

“It’s just sort of sitting there,” said Ron Utt, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. “Given the high price it is now, and the tremendous debt problem we now have, by all means, sell at the peak.”

An administration official disagreed: “Selling off the gold is just one level of crazy away from selling Mount Rushmore.”

Our buildings

The Obama administration already has plans to shed thousands of vacant or unused buildings. According to a 2009 audit, there are 14,000 vacant properties and 55,000 underused ones.

YOUR TAKE: #USAforSale

What do you think? The U.S. owns roughly 650 million acres of land and one million buildings. Is now the time to cash in? Tell us. Use #USAforSale in your reply.

Here are a few of your responses:

@washingtonpost the us should find a short term solution (toll roads), then bring defense spending down to 2000 levels #USAforSaleless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply

What happens when all of our assets are all sold off? #USAforsaleless than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

@washingtonpost #USAforSale release overexcessive property on Military installations for sale.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

How much do you think we could get for trump's hair piece? #USAforSaleless than a minute ago via txt Favorite Retweet Reply

#USAforSale all the humanitarian obligations for the rest of the planet.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

By T.J. Ortenzi  |  01:38 PM ET, 05/16/2011

 
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