(House of Representatives - July 20, 2011)

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[Page H5241]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                     UNCLE SAM--THE GREAT LANDOWNER

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Poe) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, we've heard the song:
  ``This land is your land;
  ``This land is my land;
  ``From California to the New York Island;
  ``This land was made for you and me.''
  But we need to understand that, in America, the greatest, largest 
landholder is Uncle Sam--Uncle Sam, the great landowner. He owns 27 
percent of all the land in America.
  This poster here shows the holdings of Uncle Sam. All of the red in 
the United States, including the red in Alaska, is owned by Uncle Sam. 
Over 50 percent of the land in the West is owned by Uncle Sam.
  Now, if we were to transfer all of these acres to the east coast, 
that's about the size of all of the land east of the Mississippi that 
is owned by Uncle Sam. Looking at it another way, let's go across the 
seas, to Europe. If you were to take all of the land that Uncle Sam 
owns and superimpose it on Europe, it would include the United Kingdom, 
Spain, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Germany, and 
Poland. That would be how much land Uncle Sam would own if he owned 
that portion of Europe.
  So the great landholder is none other than the Federal Government. 
The Federal Government owns about 27 percent of all the land in 
America--623 million acres.
  We are now talking about how to increase the revenue for this 
  Maybe we should do something that was thought of years ago. Ronald 
Reagan may not have been the first, but he did mention in the 1980s 
that the Federal Government ought to sell some of that land to 
Americans to help--get this--pay down the debt. This has even been 
talked about in the White House. President Obama, a couple of weeks 
ago, discussed selling just one little 300-portion acre in Los Angeles 
that was worth approximately $2 billion.
  Maybe we should sell some of that.
  So I introduced the American Land Act, which will do this:
  It will require that the Bureau of Land Management and the Forestry 
Service sell a portion of their land for the next 5 years, and that 
will be a 26 percent decrease in total land in the United States owned 
by Uncle Sam. Now, bear in mind--I'm going to make this clear--this 
does not include the national parks; this does not include the Fish and 
Wildlife Service, the marshes, the coastal plains, the environmentally 
sensitive areas. The Federal Government would make the decision as to 
what would be sold. In 2005, the landholdings of the United States, 
according to OMB, was worth about $1.1 trillion. So I think, if we sold 
a portion of this land, it would raise revenue for the United States, 
approximately $200 billion or less.
  Plus, it would do other things.
  It would put the land in the hands of Americans. Americans would own 
the land, and they would pay taxes. They could pay taxes not only to 
local and State governments, but when they build a business or make a 
business, they would bring in more Federal income tax. It will save the 
Federal Government the cost of maintaining ownership, and it will raise 
revenue and pay down the debt.
  Real property in the hands of real Americans.
  What a thought.
  It will create productivity.
  Sell American land to Americans. Let Americans own more of America.
  Uncle Sam shouldn't prevent Americans from having a stake, or a 
share, in America. The United States owns most of the grand estate of 
our great country, and it's time to let more Americans own it--because 
this land was made for you and me.
  And that's just the way it is.