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Government To Sell Naming Rights To Hurricanes
WASHINGTON (CAP) - As part of his latest effort to jumpstart the economy during an increasingly volatile political climate, President Obama today announced a plan to replace the existing hurricane naming process with a corporate sponsorship program that is expected to add at least $500 million annually to the federal coffers.
"It's a plan that says even in the aftermath of possibly the worst natural disaster to strike an area, we may cry, but, uhh, we'll cry all the way to the bank," Obama said during a speech to announce the plan. "So when the forecast calls for pain, middle class America won't be left holding the bag.
"Aww, who am I kidding," Obama abruptly added. "Middle class America is always left holding the bag. But at least now the bag will be sponsored."
The Treasury Department's Office of Domestic Finance will oversee the application and bidding process, which will begin as soon as a storm is forecast to become a hurricane. Treasury officials acknowledge that the $50 million starting price tag could be a bit steep for all but the largest multi-national corporations.
"There are provisions in the plan that allow for companies with smaller budgets to sponsor a tropical depression, say, or tack their name onto the remnants of a hurricane once it breaks up over land, that sort of thing," said Under Secretary Jeffrey Goldstein. "We have no problem nickel-and-diming these storms to death."
Some companies have already expressed reservations about the program, concerned over the negative publicity that could come with having their names attached to scenes of devastation. However, a number of insurance companies have been quick to step forward to take part, knowing that as victims of a storm survey the damage, there will be one name on their minds.
"I mean, you can't buy this kind of publicity," said Nationwide Insurance spokesperson Maxwell Alabaster. "Well, actually, I guess that's exactly what we're doing.
"Of course, after paying to have a good ole Cat 5 named after us, not sure what we'll have left to pay out for claims," Alabaster added. "But I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Unless the bridge is, you know, torn apart by a hurricane."
A handful of celebrities have also exhibited interest in what some say could become a whimsy among the Hollywood elite who could well afford the cost of sponsorship. Names like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton are among those who claim to have that kind of money kicking around and "want in."
"Well, we're naming hurricanes, not train wrecks," noted Goldstein. "But I guess their money's just as green."
Republicans have already blasted Obama's plan as "more of the same," pointing to the president's failed attempt to get Major League Baseball to name urinals at Washington Nationals Stadium after top GOP leaders and donate a portion of beer sales to charity for every flush. CAP News asked House Minority Leader John Boehner why the Republicans continue to be at odds with Obama.
"Well, for one, he's still black," explained Boehner. "Talk about broken campaign promises. And I hear he uses antiperspirant instead of deodorant, and everyone knows that's bad for your pores. Should I go on?"
The hurricane sponsorship program is part of Obama's "Grasping At Straws" economic recovery initiative.
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