Romney’s War on Sesame Street

The Obama campaign released an ad accusing Romney of wanting to bring down Big Bird. The ad is sure to sway the undecided voters to swing Obama’s way. (I’m joking.) The truth is that I can’t even imagine Obama supporters thinking that it will do anything but elicit mockery and ridicule from everyone. We’re $16 trillion in debt, and all the Obama campaign can think of to really get back at Romney is his alleged opposition to…Big Bird?

The accusation is based on one of Romney’s statements during the debate where he said that even though he likes PBS and Big Bird, he doesn’t think the government should be funding it. Obama’s response was that cutting funding to PBS wouldn’t do anything to address the deficit because so little is given to them. Obama is correct in this regard, believe it or not.

About 60% of PBS’s revenue comes from private donations (“contributions from viewers like you”). Politico points out that the total federal funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), by whom PBS and NPR are funded, doesn’t really amount to much when looked at in the context of total federal spending:

In the 2012 fiscal year, CPB was given $444 .1 million — about 0.012 percent of the entire federal budget… By law, CPB must give around 72 percent of its appropriation directly to stations, with lesser amounts going to PBS and other public TV and radio broadcasters. In the 2011 fiscal year, for example, PBS received just $22.3 million of CPB’s total $429 million appropriation, according to the most current data available.

But $440 million is still a lot of money even though we’re now used to hearing about hundreds of billions of dollars being spent here or there and trillions of dollars of debt. And I think Romney was only mentioning cutting PBS because Jim Lehrer hosts PBS’s News Hour, and Romney was only using it as a convenient example. It’s not like it’s the only thing Romney would cut. Romney pointed out in the debate that he would cut any program or agency that wasn’t worth borrowing from China to fund. The first government program he mentioned cutting was Obamacare. If Romney successfully gets Obamacare repealed, that would be a tremendous step toward fiscal solvency.

The Obama campaign’s attempt to portray Romney as “anti-Big Bird” has gotten Obama into a little trouble with PBS. Sesame Workshop is the PBS-affiliated, non-profit and non-partisan organization behind Sesame Street and Big Bird. They want the Obama campaign to remove the ad because they didn’t approve any campaign ads, don’t endorse political candidates or get involved in political campaigns. Apparently, they don’t want to be involved in this silly debate about who is anti-Big Bird and who is pro-Big Bird. Obama’s campaign said that they “received and will review their concerns.”

While Obama attempts to enrage the American people over Romney’s “hatred” of Big Bird, he completely ignores the real issues plaguing Americans such as what the government should be doing to help Oscar the Grouch boost his self-esteem and overcome his victimization by society who judge him as having a “trashy” lifestyle. Now that’s important.

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