D.C. Tag Sale How to make Washington work: Privatize, privatize, privatize.
(MONEY Magazine) – With all the lurid tales coming out of Washington, D.C. these days, a bit of good news got scant attention earlier this year: The Clinton Administration is reportedly considering raising $2.5 billion by selling Ginnie Mae, the agency that packages mortgages. Great idea--but why stop there? There are dozens of government operations we could unload for extra cash. In fact, I say we hold an Official U.S. Government Tag Sale, starting with the following items:
SOCIAL SECURITY. In his State of the Union address in January, President Clinton floated the idea of investing some Social Security funds in the stock market. Hey, let's just convert the whole shebang into the world's largest mutual fund--$730 billion in assets and climbing, for now anyway--and sell it to Fidelity. (Memo to Peter Lynch: Here's your chance to manage a really big fund.)
THE U.S. MINT. The Franklin Mint has proved that there are big bucks in porcelain Elvis dolls that croon "Jail House Rock." But the U.S. Mint could do even better in political memorabilia. Why? Because its collectibles would be legal tender as well. If the market for Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemings silver dollars or Hillary Clinton-Tammy Wynette "Stand by Your Man" figurines sags, just trade 'em in for T-bills.
THE IRS. With federal regulations prohibiting kneecap breaking, collection agencies have a tough time getting deadbeats to pay. The IRS, by contrast, can really lay on the muscle. Seize that bank account! Garnishee those wages! Credit-card issuers like Citibank and First USA would pay billions for that kind of collection clout.
THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE. There are two ways to go with this respected auditing arm of Congress: Sell it to a company like Cendant that would like to demonstrate that no more accounting "irregularities" are lurking in its books. Or license the name to an accounting firm that could then stamp GAO APPROVED on clients' financial statements, much as the USDA stamps raw beef.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. When it comes to impeaching a popular head of state, nobody does it better than the House. So let's leverage that legislative verve into a new cable-TV venture: the House Impeachment Channel. Target the officeholder of your choice, hire a p.i., send the evidence to the Impeachment Channel...and let Rep. Henry Hyde and his boys take it from there. If you meet their standard--wink, wink--the trial will be conducted not by the stodgy Senate but by Judge Judy, Hizzoner Ed Koch or, Animal Court duties permitting, Judge Wapner.