By Rick Manning — The Obama campaign launched an Internet hit campaign using Big Bird to attack Mitt Romney as a result of Romney’s debate claim that he would eliminate funding for the Public Broadcasting System if elected president.
Romney unequivocally declared that the U.S. government was going to have to make some tough choices due to the gigantic budget deficit, and singled out the home of moderator Jim Lehrer’s PBS News Hour saying, “I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird. Actually like you, too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.”
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides partial support for PBS and National Public Radio (NPR), receives about $450 million a year in taxpayer dollars. But as House Republicans who voted to take the multi-million-dollar earning Big Bird off the public dole discovered he and his movie star pals don’t go down easily.
Congressman Doug Lamborn, in an exclusive 2011 interview with Americans for Limited Government’s Frank McCaffrey pointed out, “Why should taxpayers, when we are running trillion dollar deficits have to pay for something like this that could pay for itself, it doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Yet, two years later the Big Bird subsidy remains.
Team Obama has even given Big Bird his very own campaign ad in an attempt to mock Romney’s nation’s annual trillion-dollar-plus budget deficit.
More than just symbolically, Big Bird has become the major dividing line in the election.
Will America vote to continue spending $3.60 for every $2.50 our nation takes into our treasury unconcerned about how our government covers the bills and unaware that the trillion a year results in devastating our economic growth and overall job creation.
Romney in the debate called the saddling of our children and grandchildren with an insurmountable debt to pay for our luxuries and excesses a “moral issue.”
Perhaps those who believe that Big Bird, Elmo, Kermit and Miss Piggy need a taxpayer subsidy to help with early childhood education missed the “Tickle me Elmo” craze that generated millions of dollars, and they undoubtedly were unaware that Kermit and Miss Piggy went Hollywood a long time ago making millions in the process.
Or, perhaps they haven’t flipped around to the hundreds of channels on their televisions and envisioned the bidding war to bring Big Bird to a privately funded station.
As strange as it might seem, Big Bird just might be the perfect symbol for this election.
Will America behave like grown-ups with an out-of-control budget and start cutting back on the luxuries in an attempt to bring it somewhat under control, or will they behave like children (or Baby Boomers) who have little regard or comprehension of the consequences of spending a week’s worth of lunch money on Monday because mommy is just going to give them more on Tuesday?
If Team Obama gets its way, Big Bird will remain on the public dole enslaving the generation that watches him today to those who lent America the money to subsidize him.
Rick Manning is the communications director of Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Rick on Twitter at @RManning957.