As president, Donald Trump would sell off $16 trillion worth of U.S. government assets in order to fulfill his pledge to eliminate the national debt in eight years, senior adviser with the campaign Barry Bennett said.
“The United States government owns more real estate than anybody else, more land than anybody else, more energy than anybody else,” Bennett told Chris Jansing Sunday on MSNBC. “We can get rid of government buildings we’re not using, we can extract the energy from government lands, we can do all kinds of things to extract value from the assets that we hold.”
In a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post, Trump said he would get rid of the $19 trillion national debt “over a period of eight years.” The article noted that most economists would consider Trump’s proposal impossible, as it could require slashing the annual federal budget by more than half.
Glenn Kessler, who writes the Post’s Fact Checker column, deemed the plan “nonsensical” and gave it “Four Pinocchios.” Kessler assessed that even if Trump were to eliminate every government function and shut down every Cabinet agency, he would still be short $16 trillion.
“We regret we have only Four Pinocchios to give for this whopper,” Kessler said. “Trump is insulting the intelligence of Americans for making such a claim in the first place.”
However, when pressed on whether the United States could sell off $16 trillion worth of assets, Bennett responded affirmatively on Sunday.
“Oh, my goodness,” he said. “Do you know how much land we have? You know how much oil is off shore? And in government lands? Easily.”
The federal government’s assets totaled $3.2 trillion as of September 2015, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. However, that does not include include stewardship assets or natural resources.