Friday, April 24, 2009

Credit Card-tastic!

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States...

Thank you all for coming today. As you know, I've just met with the chief executives of the American credit card industry, and we've had a very productive, even eye-opening meeting. As you also know, China and other nations are becoming less willing to fund our deficit spending to bring about economic recovery, provide increased government benefits, and create a green future. So, at this time, I'd like to update you on our progress in these negotiations to secure a new credit card for the United States.

At the start of these negotiations, I requested one of those cool, personalized credit cards. The kind where you can put the picture of a cute little kitten or a hip campaign logo on it. I'm happy to report that these fine representatives of the financial sector agreed that such a credit card was indeed possible, though with additional fees and a higher interest rate.

After filling out and processing our country's application, however, my request for a new United States credit card was rejected. It seems that our nation's debt-to-income ratio is too high. "Gargantuan," one of the people across the table from me called it. As I told him at the time, this kind of rhetoric is not helpful, and he should remember that I recently fired the head of General Motors.

At this point, the chief executives from the credit card industry offered to issue a new card for the United States if our great nation could find a co-signer. Patriots that we are, Michelle and I immediately offered our own signatures. After filling out and processing that application, however, Michelle and I were also rejected. "Dude," I said across the table, "we made $2.7 million last year!"

As it turned out, a credit card account of which I had no prior knowledge had been opened under my name. We traced this account to Hugh Chavez, who apparently used it to buy a book and extend a runway to accommodate some Russian long-range strategic bombers. I immediately phoned President Chavez and told him that identity theft was not helpful. He then explained this must have been a data entry error on the part of the credit card issuer. The chief executives here at the table with me denied this was the case, but as a fellow statesman, I took President Chavez at his word, and laughs were shared all around. In fact, I look forward without preconditions to landing on President Chavez's new runway during my upcoming state visit to Venezuela.

This was when our negotiations took an unexpected turn. Apparently, the application that Michelle and I put in to co-sign for a new credit card for the United States triggered a threshold criterion of which I had no prior knowledge and lowered our own credit scores. This resulted in the APR on all our personal credit cards being raised to 29.8%. Naturally, I told the fine businesspeople across the table from me that this was not helpful. They referred me to several separate credit reporting agencies, who promised to separately mail me several separate forms to fill out and separately return, after which they have assured me they will separately investigate this matter fully. And separately. I thank them for their patriotism and support, and promise again that their bailout money is on the way.

These contacts with the various credit reporting agencies actually turned out to be rather fortuitous. During these conversations, I learned that that United States had been reported to a collection agency for a zombie debt. This explains the many recent harassing phone calls received here at the White House, which until today we had been chalking up to domestic right-wing extremists, though in fairness, a few intelligence analysts did suspect the Crank Yankers, as these callers ended each conversation with the phrase "Bill Clinton in the true Man from Hope!" This also explains why my own credit card was declined while trying to purchase a DVD box set for Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Luckily, Secret Service Agent 27 lent me his Discover Card to complete that purchase, thus avoiding a serious breach of international protocol. Agent 27, if you're listening, just let me say that this time, I really will have the money for you next Tuesday. I promise.

Where was I? Oh, yes, the collection agency...

As it turns out, this debt was handed over to the collection agency by Kim Jong-Il of North Korea and involves an unpaid balance of heavy fuel oil, food aid, and a light-water nuclear reactor. I have no knowledge of the United States ever receiving a collection notice regarding this matter, but the agency swears they sent it. Therefore, I can only assume this notice was in fact received but somehow got mixed with all those unread pieces of legislation sent over from Congress for my signature. My bad.

I immediately initiated a phone call to the Dear Leader. It took some time to get him on the line, and it was while we were all being kept on hold that my top economic adviser Larry Summers fell asleep.

After Kim Jong-Il finally picked up the extension and we got Larry to wake up, I told the Dear Leader that reporting the United States to a collection agency was not helpful. In response, someone in the background with an Iranian accent shouted something that, in the majority opinion of those clustered around the speakerphone, translated as "Bring it on, Big Bad Daddy Satan!" I should note here, however, that I believe the correct translation is actually "Bring it on, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy," an obvious reference to the swing band that helped repopularize that style of music in the late 1990s. North Korea is, after all, several years behind us in terms of all the popular lifestyle trends. Just to cautious, however, I responded that either translation was not helpful.

At this point, the Dear Leader explained that the telephone wires had obviously been crossed with another line somewhere in the Middle East, thus defusing a very tense situation. Unfortunately, this was also the point that Larry Summers, who had fallen back asleep, graced us with one of those explosive, choking snores, which Kim Jong-Il took as an expression of our disbelief in his thoughtful explanation. As a result, the Dear Leader threatened to have the collection agency ding our credit score again for refusal to pay, and I realized it would be both cheaper and less time-intensive to simply pay off this forgotten debt rather than going through the process of again contacting several separate credit reporting agencies, who would promise to separately mail me several separate forms to fill out and separately return, after which they would assure me that they would separately investigate this matter fully. The Dear Leader found my logic compelling and agreed to this compromise of payment in full. I ended the call with my best wishes that his next satellite launch would be a resounding success.

It was at this point that I sadly realized a new, unsecured credit card for the United States was simply not a possibility. I share the frustration of all Americans at this lack of available credit. We, as a nation, are no longer credit-worthy, for which I blame the previous administration and their horrendous fiscal irresponsibility. Fortunately, however, I am pleased to announce that the good executives across this table from me have offered the United States a new, secured credit card.

Unfortunately, the credit limit on this card will be low, and the interest rate will be high. This new card also will not be able to carry a photo of a cute kitten or a hip campaign logo.

Details regarding my upcoming, gargantuan tax increase to cover the check I just deposited into the country's new secured credit card account will be announced shortly...