Sell the gold in Fort Knox!
No, it’s not an Onion article (not anymore, at least). It’s an idea of how to avoid raising the debt ceiling from the conservative/libertarian think tank Heritage Foundation. According to the Washington Post, the group is coming up with any possible way to reduce the country’s debt rather than raise the debt ceiling, and selling off our gold is one of them.
“It’s just sort of sitting there,” said Ron Utt, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. “Given the high price it is now, and the tremendous debt problem we now have, by all means, sell at the peak.”
But that’s cockamamie, declares the Obama administration. Mary J. Miller, Treasury’s assistant secretary for financial markets, said the U.S. should sell assets in an orderly, “well-telegraphed” manner, not in a “fire sale” atmosphere with a debt limit deadline accelerating the process.
“It would be bad for the taxpayers. It would be bad for the markets,” Miller said.
Another senior administration official, not authorized to speak for attribution, described the situation more bluntly: “Selling off the gold is just one level of crazy away from selling Mount Rushmore.”
Of course, there are some obvious problems with the gold dump — finding buyers, flooding the market and, oh, maybe the utter financial instability that would be caused if the U.S. started selling off mass amounts of assets like it was afraid someone’s going to repossess their Mustang.
But the proposal also provides some clues about the true “libertarian” plan for the country — turn everything over to private investors.
For example, another idea being thrown around by the group is that the U.S. should sell off “$260 billion in federal assets over 15 years … partial sales of federal properties, real estate, mineral rights, the electromagnetic spectrum, and energy-generation facilities.” They don’t say exactly what, but it’s not to hard to guess.
One idea percolating was the selling off of the highway system. Essentially, every road could be turned into a toll road, according to one source. So what would be essentially a regressive tax would hit hardest on the lower and middle income who need to use roads to get to daily jobs or to get to services like grocery stores or department stores. Unlike those people who are living off of dividends and can chose when to leave the house, they would be trapped into paying whatever the owners decide to ask for.
Or what if all of the energy companies belonged to private owners and the government had no controls? Remember Enron, energy rationing and brownouts?
At this point these are all just what ifs, but they might not be forever. The Heritage Foundation is one driving forces behind today’s Republican party.
Maybe it’s time to ask the GOP exactly what assets they want to sell, and to whom?
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