The PJ Tatler

Obama selling off federal property to pay off his (national) debts

This seems like a fine idea, but here are two better ones: Stop spending so much money and stop attacking job creators.

The move to sell off government land comes as President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans are debating ways to slash deficits expected to average more than $1 trillion annually over the coming decade. If enacted, the plan would use 60 percent of the savings to pay down the deficit and 40 percent to cover costs for other government-run facilities.

Taking the properties off the federal government’s books would save $15 billion over three years, administration officials said. The federal government is the largest land owner in the United States. It owns more than 1 million properties and has an annual operation and maintenance budget running more than $20 billion.

Here is an interactive map of all of the properties — check for properties in your area. But the problem with selling stuff off is that you have to find buyers. In this market, that is probably going to mean the federal government ends up taking pennies on the dollar of what properties may actually be worth. And it may flood the overall real estate market with cheap properties, driving prices farther down. I ranted about that already once today. Additionally, this plan’s most optimistic assumption is that it will rake in enough to pay down a whopping 1% of the national debt. Every little bit helps, but this is definitely a little bit.

As for the properties themselves, a question arises: What if you buy a property that is still surrounded by sensitive federally owned land? That may arise  in Alaska, for instance, where four of the properties are tied to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage. Click to enlarge.