Tags: Barack Obama | John Mica | federal | property | Obama

WH Says It'll Consider Mica's Plan to Cut Federal Property

By    |   Tuesday, 02 December 2014 10:08 PM

The White House told Newsmax on Tuesday that it would "take a look at" the long-term plan of Rep. John Mica to phase out the federal government's role as the largest holder of property, buildings, and other structures in the United States.

At the regular briefing for reporters at the White House, Press Secretary Josh Earnest pointed out that "this is something that the Office of Management and Budget has been focused quite a bit under this president's leadership" and that "there has been a concerted effort to reduce costs, to cut red tape, and to deal with surplus federal government assets."

But Mica, a Florida Republican, wants to go farther and actually dispose of, put to use or sell to the private sector much of the 14,000 vacant or underused properties of which the federal government is the "landlord."

Should conservative Republicans in the House such as Mica and the Obama administration work together on this issue, the cause of reforming government oversight of property could become a rare case in which bipartisanship is the norm in official Washington.

Such a joint effort could even find President Barack Obama and Donald Trump, two longtime antagonists, working together. Mica has hailed Trump for purchasing the half-empty Old Post Office in Washington from the federal government and replacing it with a five-star hotel that "returns roughly $250,000 a month in revenue to the government," the congressman said.

Earnest told Newsmax that "I haven't seen Rep. Mica's proposal, but it's certainly something we would take a look at."

In an interview with Newsmax in November, Mica insisted that the issue of selling the assets "to folks who know how to make use of it" had appeal that crossed party lines and could easily become one of the issues both parties in Congress can work on together in 2015.

"So many of my colleagues told voters this year that they would look for waste and abuses of taxpayers' money to root out and, believe me, they'll sure find it if they look at the assets their government holds," said 12-termer Mica, a past chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

The Floridian cited a report whose compiling he oversaw on the subject in October 2010, when Democrats were still in control of the House and he was ranking Republican on the Transportation Committee.

"Fittingly," said Mica, "the report is entitled 'Sitting on Our Assets: The Federal Government's Misuse of Taxpayer-Owned Assets.'"

The report noted that "given the vast real estate holdings of the federal government, poor asset management and missed opportunities cost taxpayers tremendous sums of money. For this reason . . . the General Accountability Office placed real property management on its list of 'high-risk' government activities, where it remains today."

Also spanked in the report were Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), which "have mismanaged two major capital improvement projects that have left the NEC ([Northeast Corridor] far short of international high-speed standards, at a cost to taxpayers of nearly $6 billion [over the last three decades]."

In addition, the report fingered the government outlet that oversees flood and damage control, the Army Corps of Engineers, because "corps projects continue to be unduly delayed by bureaucratic red tape."

"When you get reports like this about Amtrak and the Army Corps, and the GSA is just one of nine government agencies that manages 93 percent of federal real property, and the General Accounting Office placed real property management in the 'high-risk' column, you have to turn to someone else to manage the properties and someone who can make a profit and return revenue," said Mica.

He spoke to Newsmax the day before the House GOP leadership declined his bid to become chairman of the House Government Reform Committee and turned instead to Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R.-Utah.

"I want to be chairman, but if I'm not, I'll understand," Mica said, "and, hey, it will give me more time to line up support for the cause of selling mismanaged government property."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.


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The White House told Newsmax on Tuesday that it would "take a look at" the long-term plan of Rep. John Mica to phase out the federal government's role as the largest holder of property, buildings, and other structures in the United States.
John Mica, federal, property, Obama
Tuesday, 02 December 2014 10:08 PM
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