11:19am

Mon May 9, 2011
Planet Money

Obama Has A Bridge He Wants To Sell You

Looking to buy a weapons range? Good news! The federal government has one it's looking to sell.

The weapons range was one of thousands of "excess" federal properties on a map the Obama Administration published last week. The idea is that selling off the properties would both raise money and save the government the cost of maintaining unused buildings.

Besides the weapons range, the list includes:

  • 14 monuments and memorials
  • 191 laboratories
  • 262 dorms and barracks
  • 199 roads and bridges
  • 1,010 warehouses
  • 1 museum
  • 1 railroad
  • 9 schools

These properties were actually identified as excess a few years back, USA Today notes.

But the White House is bringing them up again now as part of a new push to create a special commission to speed up the sale process (something along the lines of the military base-closing commission from a few years back).

This story may have a familiar ring to loyal Planet Money readers. We recently told the story of the one time the U.S. paid off the entired national debt — which was accomplished largely by selling off federal lands.

Alas, the new round of asset sales won't come anywhere near paying off the debt. Initial projections are that the sales could save $15 billion over three years. That's not even big enough to count as a rounding error in face of a $14.3 trillion debt.

Still, $15 billion is $15 billion. And the plan does have one rare thing going for it: bipartisan support. Jeff Denham, a Republican congressman from California, last week introduced legislation that's similar to the Obama plan, The Hill reports. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.