In a well-choreographed move intended to play to the sympathies of the U.S. Congress and the White House, Delta Airlines announced on Thursday that it would be requesting federal subsidies to ensure the continued operation of the airline.
Delta spokesperson, Susan Elliot, said that the request "would reflect the national security and vital economic interests of keeping afloat the United States' second-largest airline. The purpose is to avoid a domino effect," Elliot stated. "If Delta fails, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be imperiled, from the airline industry, to the airplane manufacturing industry, to parts and services industries, to the hospitality industry. The scope is really quite far-reaching. Delta's failure would be devastating to everyone in the United States."
When questioned about Delta's current financial situation, Elliot was candid. "We currently have cash on the books and, frankly, with the dramatic drop in fuel prices that have accompanied the recent economic tsunami, our situation is not that dire."
"But that's today," the nimble Elliot was quick to add. "With fewer and fewer people flying, our forward-looking projections suggest less certainty. Rather than wait until the meteor crashes into the barn, it would seem prudent for Congress and the White House to act."
Asked about the specifics of Delta's proposal, Elliot was equally forthcoming.
"We have spent some time analyzing the situation and, taking a cue from the mistakes of those in the auto industry, have devised a well-thought-out plan to deliver to the good members of Congress. That plan calls for an interest-free, no-strings-attached, non-refundable loan in the amount of $50 billion. This is a one time request. In return, we are willing to cut the wages of our workers to the bone, strip our employees of any meaningful benefits, increase the pay for the members of the Board of Directors, and reduce our employment ranks from 70,000 to 100 employees. That, of course, will not come without a cost, as it will force us to re-align our flight schedule. But nothing worth having comes without a cost. And if Congress and the White House are willing to work with us, we certainly are willing to work with them."
President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were cautiously receptive to Delta's proposal.
White House spokesperson, Robert Gibbs, stated that President Obama considered the proposal a "front burner item" and cautioned that "a failure to act now, no matter how perilous the act might appear, would be far worse than the pill that we ought now swallow."
In a brief statement, Pelosi spokesperson, Brendan Daly, stated that the Speaker of the House considered the program "good for job creation, good for the economy, and good for America," but cautioned that the Speaker would be hesitant to support any bill providing subsidies for Delta that "did not also provide funding for schools and contraception programs, and a bridge over Napa Valley."
A spokesperson for Reid added that, while the Senator supports the sentiments of the White House and the House Speaker in providing massive subsidies to Delta, he would "need to review all of the evidence very thoroughly before further imperiling America's future through additional deficit spending."
Reid set a tentative deadline of 10 pm tonight for completing his review.
Republicans have already gone on the offensive against the proposed Delta subsidy, with the governors of two of the states most affected by Delta's continuing operation, Minnesota and Georgia, expressing their disapproval of the subsidy.
"This is just another example of wasteful spending by Democrats. It is simply unacceptable," Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty said at a hastily drawn joint press conference with Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.
"There's no question about it," Perdue added in his folksy, albeit measured twang. "This has pork written all over it."
Asked whether they would work to block such subsidies, Pawlenty and Perdue noted that, out of respect for the process, they would begrudgingly accept any funds paid to their respective states as part of any Delta subsidy measure.
"If you pay for the pie, you ought to be able to eat it," Perdue commented.
In related news, Egghead.com has put forth a reorganization plan that it contends would allow the long-defunct online purveyor of software products to create tens of jobs across the country. Egghead is seeking $10 billion in subsidies to jump-start its reorganization.