The federal government is racking up a trillion dollars in bills each year that it cannot pay. It long ago passed the point where any private-sector business or individual would have been required to declare bankruptcy, if not face charges of mental incompetence to manage their own affairs.
But Washington is not really “poor.” It is very rich in assets, which it could sell or lease to pay its bills, without raising anyone’s taxes. Many of these assets would produce health economic activity in the hands of private investors, while Uncle Sam leaves them strewn carelessly across the landscape, like toys he refuses to put away after playing with them.
The Institute for Energy Research just released a new study that inventories these “vastly underutilized” federal assets:
Federal real property totals over 900,000 assets with a combined area of over 3 billion square feet and more than 41 million acres of land. Additionally, the federal government owns over 600 million acres of lands and minerals onshore, and owns or manages a total of approximately 755 million acres of onshore subsurface mineral estate. Offshore, the federal government owns some 1.76 billion acres of lands and mineral estate, extending out 200 nautical miles from our shores. The federal government’s total mineral estate holdings are therefore about 2.515 billion acres of lands. Thus, the federal government’s mineral estate land holdings surpass the total surface land area of the nation of Canada.
In fiscal year 2009, federal agencies reported 45,190 underutilized buildings, an increase of 1,830 underutilized buildings from the previous fiscal year. In fiscal year 2009, these underutilized buildings accounted for $1.66 billion in annual operating costs, according to the General Accounting Office (GAO). The majority of federally owned and leased space is held by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Postal Service, and the General Services Administration (GSA). For example, the federal government’s landlord, the GSA, owns or leases 9,600 assets with more than 362 million square feet of workspace. According to the GSA, in a 2009 report, almost 40 percent of its assets were under performing. In October 2010, a congressional study evaluated the savings that could occur based on better administration of the government’s above ground assets that totaled over several hundred billion dollars.
How much is all this worth? $128 trillion, about 8 times our national debt.
SideBear: This is certainly worth consideration, BUT only if the sale of assets where used to reduce debt.
If the money was added to the treasury, the ‘pigs for pork’ would never stop spending. ONE BIG GIANT SPEND-A-THON!
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