WASHINGTON – Freshman Republican Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida proposed privatizing federally-owned lands as a way to reduce the national debt.

"I'm not an economist, but I have maintained a household. The federal government owns 70 per cent of Utah, for example. There are federal buildings," Ross told Reuters in an interview published Tuesday. "If you need cash, let's start liquidating."

The U.S. government owns 57 percent of Utah's territory, the third highest state in terms of federal ownership -- excluding Washington, D.C. -- behind Nevada (85 percent) and Alaska (69 percent).

Ross's idea isn't a new one. Former Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) was known for proposing legislation to sell off federally-owned national parks and monuments.

The United States reached its debt limit of $14.3 trillion Monday. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner warned that failing to raise the ceiling by August 2 would force the government to start defaulting on its obligations.

Ross, a members of the Tea Party caucus, wasn't sure that inaction would be such a big deal. "I don't think Treasury has been up front with us," he told Reuters. "I am not convinced the sky will fall in on August 3."

Image via electdennisross, Creative Commons licensed

[h/t Matt Yglesias]