Fin - Daily Ticker - US

America For Sale? It Might Be If Washington Doesn’t Solve the Deficit Problem

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How would you like to own the White House? Maybe the Washington Monument? Or what about the Lincoln Memorial?

OK, these American landmarks aren't for sale, yet.  But, the Obama administration wants to put government property on the block.  Like so many homeowners, the U.S. government is deep in debt, to the tune off $14 trillion. Unlike most Americans, the U.S. government is sitting on huge tracts of land:  Uncle Sam owns over 25% of the land in this country, valued at around $2.5 trillion.

Officials in President Obama's administration say they hope to sell more than 1400 federal buildings, saving taxpayers up to $15 billion in the first three years of the program.

The idea of selling public property to pay off debt is not new or without controversy.  Indiana and Chicago each sold toll roads in recent years netting billions.  Arizona has also explored the idea.  Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to sell 24 of California's government offices, including the Ronald Reagan State Building in Los Angeles, last year.  However, current Governor Jerry Brown recently struck down the plan, saying there were better ways to raise money for the debt-ridden state.

Tourists we spoke to in the nation's capitol also had mixed feelings about the notion.  Some questioned the real benefit; others said the sales ignore the root of the deficit problem: out of control spending.

Before Obama puts the idea into practice, Congress must first approve the plan, where there seems to be some bipartisan support.  In what might be a first, liberal Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) think there's something to the idea.

What do you think? Is the selling of public property a smart move?



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