Nobody’s Firing Big Bird

I get a lot of political email these days, especially from the Obama campaign. Yesterday, for example, I got one from Stephanie Cutter, one of Obama’s campaign managers.

Over the course of this election, we’ve seen that both Romney and Ryan avoid telling the truth about their plans and how they’d actually affect the middle class. It doesn’t matter if they’re talking about taxes, health care, Medicare, education, or clean energy — the Romney-Ryan status quo is to misrepresent their positions and their practical effects.

But Stephanie isn’t above telling a few lies herself:

One of the few specific policy proposals that Romney offered at the debate was to fire Big Bird to cut the deficit. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Except she kinda did.

PBS only receives about 15% of its funding from the government, so eliminating their federal funding would not be much of a hardship. They might have to cut some programming, but surely not Sesame Street, their most well-known show. And even if they did such a crazy thing, PBS doesn’t own Sesame Street. Big Bird’s employer is actually the Sesame Workshop, a non-profit corporation that makes a lot of money through licensing of its famous characters all over the world. If one of the television networks that carries their video product lost a bit of its funding, they’d still be able to get their product out. Nobody’s firing Big Bird.

On the other hand, I don’t understand why Republicans have a bug up their ass about PBS. I agree that in an age of cable television and the Internet, we really don’t need publicly-subsidized television, but we’re talking about a very small amount of money. If Romney were serious about reducing government spending, he be talking about cutting energy and agricultural subsidies.

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