Romney Likes Big Bird, But Not That Much

The Republican presidential candidate reiterates his desire to eliminate funding for the Public Broadcasting Service if he wins the election in November. He also says that some business regulations are essential. "You can't have a free market work if you don't have regulation," he said.

Asked how he would cut the rapidly mounting federal deficit in last night presidential debate, Republican nominee Mitt Romney singled out public broadcasting along with Obamacare for the ax, despite a fondness for Big Bird and debate moderator Jim Lehrer who is an analyst and former anchor of the PBS NewsHour.

“I will eliminate all programs by this test…: Is the program is so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it. If not, I’ll get rid of it.

“Obamacare is on my list….I’m sorry, Jim. I am going to stop the subsidy to PBS….I like PBS, I like Big Bird. I actually like you too. But I’m not going to keep on spending on things and borrow money from China to pay for it.”

Romney made the same promise last August in an interview in Fortune, lumping PBS in with the National Endowment of the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and Amtrak.

“Some of these things, like those endowment efforts and PBS I very much appreciate and like what they do in many cases, but I just think they have to stand on their own rather than receiving money borrowed from other countries, as our government does on their behalf.”

In a statement to The Washington Post follwing the Fortune article, PBS CEO Paula Kerger called it “extremely disappointing.”


She pointed to a bi-partisan survey that found that 69% oppose cutting PBS.

“We understand that these are challenging times,” Kerger said. “However, public broadcasting has already sustained a 13% cut in its federal funds over the past two years. More severe cuts would be crippling.”

During the hour-and-a-half-debate, Romney presented himself as a moderate, at one point asserting that business regulations were “essential.”

“You can’t have a free market work if you don’t have regulation. As a business person…I needed to know the regulations. I needed them there. You couldn’t have people opening up banks in their…garage and making loans. I mean, you have to have regulations so that you can have an economy work. Every free economy has good regulation.”

But he also said that sometimes regulations can be “excessive” and produce unintended consequences. He offered no example of excessive regulation, but he said an example of unintended consequences is buried in the Dodd-Frank reform legislation spawned by the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008.

Among other things, he said, “it designates a number of banks as too big to fail, and they’re effectively guaranteed by the federal government.

“This is the biggest kiss that’s been given to …New York banks I’ve ever seen. This is an enormous boon for them.”

Comments (4)

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Jay Miller says:

October 4, 2012 at 1:20 pm

PBS needs to go away..Now!!!

    Ellen Samrock says:

    October 4, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    It doesn’t need to go away but it does need to be independent of government funding. And PBS has enough quality shows that would enable the network to stand on its own.

Tom DeTulleo says:

October 4, 2012 at 5:22 pm

I think it’s pretty clear that budget cuts have less to do with what is “critical” and more to do with what someone thinks is critical. It’s about setting priorities, not saying whether or not we really need something so bad we have to borrow money. The federal government spends all kinds of money on things that any one of us would balk at. I for one, think that the entire Iraq War was a waste of money. But let’s look at the money here, too. While the Iraq war cost us, what, $2 trillion? The entire budget of the CPB is $422 mil. Half of that money goes to 350 local TV stations around the country, $71 million goes to pay for the creation of TV programming, (like the excellent 4 hour documentary I saw on Reagan a couple of years ago), and $94 million goes to the dreaded NPR. Does Romney actually think he’s going to solve our debt problems by saving $94 mil? Or is he just trying to play politics. If we’re going to be serious about cutting our deficit down, then we’re going to have to stop playing politics and go after the big ticket items first. And I’m sorry to say, that starts with the defense budget.

Kevin Benz says:

October 4, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I use an antenna and watch PBS/create/world alot. I think it would be a damn shame to cut their funding and that alone made up my mind last night. I hate bringing politics into anything, but PBS does have a block for kids, cooking/gardening/crafts, nature, nova, frontline, bbc news, antiques roadshow, brit comedies, and on and on. Money well spent in my opinion.

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