Should We Pay Off $20 Trillion in National Debt by Selling Federal Assets?
Total US debt is closing in on $20 trillion but it appears as if President Trump may be considering a fire sale of government assets to pay it off. Not only would this lower or completely wipe out the entire US national debt but it would also simultaneously shrink the size of government by transferring a significant amount of federal land and assets to the private sector.
This was the subject of our recent interview with William Shughart, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and a former economist at the Federal Trade Commission, who was contacted by Trump's team to assess the feasibility of this idea, including estimates of all federal assets.
Here's a short clip of what he had to say:
Trillions in Energy, Mineral Reserves
We should take advantage of the fact that the US government is the wealthiest that’s ever existed on the face of the Earth to help pay down the national debt, Shughart stated.
If a program could be launched where some of the federal government’s estimated trillions of assets could be sold off to the private sector, we could raise funds virtually overnight to wipe out the national debt as it currently exists.
“The basic idea is to begin a structured sale — a fire sale — of federal assets to raise the funds to pay off the national debt,” Shughart said.
Since the federal government owns 28% of the land mass of the United States, this would be the first place to start.
However, Shughart noted, “the real treasure trove is not on federal lands … but underneath them, in the form of oil, gas, and other mineral deposits both offshore and on.”
Depending on how those energy reserves are valued, estimates run from $28 trillion up to $128 trillion, he said.
“Selling off rights to explore and access these oil, gas, and other mineral deposits, by itself could wipe out the national debt.”
Listen to this full interview with William Shughart on our website by logging in and clicking here. Become a subscriber and gain full access to our premium weekday interviews with leading guest experts by clicking here.
About FS Staff
FS Staff Archive
|04/25/2017||Populism and the Long-Term Debt Cycle||story|
|04/24/2017||McClellan: "Gobs of Liquidity" to Fuel Markets Higher||story|
|04/21/2017||Measuring Hard and Soft Power in a Potential War With North Korea||story|
|04/19/2017||Rising Rates and Shrinking Balance Sheets Pose Risks Ahead||story|
|04/19/2017||Is the US Stock Market at a Major Inflection Point?||story|
|04/18/2017||The Behavior of the Market Actually Has Very Little to do with Trump||story|
|04/11/2017||Fed Bombshell Minutes Indicate Balance Sheet Reductions, Suggest Markets are Overvalued||story|
|04/11/2017||Rate Normalization to Continue Above 2 Percent||story|
|04/07/2017||Skynet and the Age of Artificial Intelligence||story|
|04/06/2017||Dutta: Economic Recovery Will Continue for 2017; Hard-Versus-Soft Debate a Red Herring||story|