WASHINGTON, DC—Ushering in a new era of American economic prosperity, Congress announced Monday that the nation's $4.8 trillion federal budget deficit has been eliminated using famed infomercial pitchman Don Lapre's "Making Money" system.

"For the first time since 1891, America is in the black," Senate Budget Committee chair Pete Domenici (R-NM) said. "Finally, we as a nation can have everything we've ever wanted—a new car, a European vacation, a summer home. And we have Don Lapre and his fantastic system to thank for that."

According to Domenici, the Lapre system—which enabled ordinary federal legislators to make extraordinary sums of money right from their own Congressional chambers in less than 30 days using tiny classified ads—was initially proposed to Congress on Aug. 8 by U.S. Rep. John Kasich (R-OH).

The night before, Kasich was watching television at 3 a.m. when a half-hour advertisement for the Making Money system caught his eye. "It sounded too good to be true," said Kasich, posing with his stunning new Eurasian wife. "But everyone on the show was saying how well it worked for them. I thought, maybe Congress could try it."

Kasich's fellow legislators were skeptical at first—perhaps none more so than House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO). "When I saw the box on Kasich's desk, I got angry at him and said, 'You went and bought that thing, didn't you?'" Gephardt said. "I figured that was 60 bucks thrown out the window. A week later, I was asking to go with him to auctions!"

"They were all sure it was just a phony get-rich-quick scheme," Kasich said. "But Lapre was adamant that ordering his system was a wise action, an act of taking responsibility for one's situation. Also, if Lapre was able to generate that much wealth all by himself out of a one-room apartment, I explained to my colleagues, just imagine what the House and Senate could do using the Capitol Building and our extensive in-house staff."

An advertisement for the Don Lapre system that helped Congress eliminate the federal deficit in less than 30 days.

Once Lapre's system arrived by mail, Kasich and his fellow legislators found the system easy to understand and follow. "We placed tiny ads in a local paper until we found ones that turned a profit, even if it was just a $30 or $40 profit," Kasich said. "Then we multiplied that ad by hundreds and hundreds of newspapers all over the country. Doing this repeatedly, it's easy to see how we quickly reached 4.8 trillion dollars. And this fantastic system was ours for only three easy payments of $19.95."

Even better news for the U.S. economy, the classified-ads scheme is just one of three quick paths to prosperity outlined in Lapre's system.

"Don also showed us how to make a killing on the real-estate market by buying distressed properties at auctions," said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), speaking to reporters while walking on a Hawaiian beach. "And he even showed us how to set up our own 900 number, allowing the government to make money 24 hours a day, even while sleeping."

Lapre, meanwhile, is enjoying the positive publicity generated by the end of the crippling deficit. "Congress used my system to pay off the deficit," he boasts in the latest installment of his long-running infomercial. "And the success stories do not stop there. They go on and on and on and on!"

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), one of the Lapre system's most vocal critics when it was first proposed in Congress, had nothing but praise Tuesday: "If there are any other world governments reading this article, who wonder if this system can also help them, I want to say, believe me. It works. And it even has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose!"

With the deficit eliminated, Congress is now taking steps to reduce the annual budget to prevent future debt. To this end, Congress has enlisted the services of TV pitchman and exercise guru Tony Little. The ponytailed, well-muscled Little, who once weighed over 300 pounds, has vowed to "trim the fat" from the budget and "whip the 1998 federal fiscal outlay into shape" in just three weeks, or Congress will get its money back.