The White House recently announced it will shift debt from the Federal Reserve to the Treasury in an attempt to “buy time” on raising the debt limit ceiling. Rather than sly accounting, the federal government should dispose of the billions in assets it holds, stop the spending binge to acquire and maintain those assets and rescind the failed “stimulus.”

  • Get out of the bailout business. Simply by selling the remainder of its General Motors shares, the government could net $18 billion in savings. The government should also demand GM pay back the $30 billion in outstanding assistance from TARP.

    • Days gained on the federal debt: 12
  • Lease government lands for energy production. The federal government currently owns over 85 million acres of untapped oil and gas reserves. Immediate income from auctioning federally-owned leases could total $61 billion.

    • Days gained on the federal debt: 15
  • Sell public lands. The federal government currently owns over 650 million acres of land – almost 30 percent of all land in the United States. Based on land values estimated on past exchanges, selling federal lands (exempting National Parks) could be worth as much as $230 billion. This doesn’t include the over $25 billion spent on maintenance or $347 million spent on acquisition annually.

    • Days gained on the federal debt: 57
  • Reform Federal Real Property Management. The federal government is estimated to hold 900,000 buildings and structures. GAO has warned that real property owned by the government is consistently underutilized or abused, including the government’s maintenance of its real property as a part of its High-Risk Series since 2003. Selling nonperforming real estate assets and reforming federal real estate management would save at least $4 billion.

    • Days gained on the federal debt: 1
  • Rescind spending programs that have been proven failures, such as the “stimulus” plan. The White House recently admitted that as much as $168 billion in funds remain unspent.

    • Days gained: 42

Total amount of government assets and rescinded spending: $536 billion
Total number of days gained before the debt limit must be raised: 127

Simply by selling the assets the government maintains, Congress could gain roughly four months and one week to debate comprehensive spending reform that would prevent lawmakers from fixating on the debt problem and refocus on the problem at hand: government overspending.