Washington DC - The Federal Government's army of airport security guards is being enlisted in the fight to reduce the nation's budget deficit.
Under a new program called "Finders/Keepers," TSA agents will be empowered to seize any currency, jewelry or other valuables that they find in unchecked luggage as it passes through their x-ray security systems.
"All of the proceeds we collect under Finders/Keepers will be applied immediately to the federal deficit," said Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in announcing the program, which begins today to make sure the flying public is caught unawares.
"And let me tell you, we're not talking spare change here. People who fly have lots of money and loads of nice stuff," the secretary explained. "So we should have the federal deficit down to zero no time."
Asked how the American public will react to having its carry-on items burglarized, Napolitano balked: "No one is talking about stealing here. We're just appropriating public property for the public good.
"And did I mention that Finders/Keepers will not slow down airport security lines? I think the flying public is going to like, no love, that."
If Finders/Keepers proves successful, TSA plans to test another revenue-generating program called Pat Down/Pay Up. "This one will actually enhance the flying experience," Napolitano said. "For an added fee, passengers can order a more vigorous pat down, designed to help reduce the stress of flying."
The planned service will range from simple backrubs to what is being called the "Al Gore Special."
"For a guy who's always talking such doom and gloom, Al sure knows a happy ending when he sees one," Napolitano noted. "In fact, he has volunteered to be one of our testers."