Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Say, What?

(Click on image to enlarge, and then return.  Now.)

Of all the comments made by Mitt Romney in last week's debate, the one which really grabbed folks was his gratuitous offer to defund PBS, even though he likes Big Bird.  Now you just know that cartoonists and photoshop experts were delighted.  Horsey's cartoon, published yesterday, has plenty of company.  Mike Luckovich pumped one out ASAP.  Matt Bors put one up yesterday.  Libby Spencer found multiple 'toons on the net,  see here and here.

More than outrage by the attack on an American icon is involved, however, as Horsey points out.

Mitt Romney may have won the first presidential debate, but what stuck in many people’s minds was his threat to fire Big Bird. Apparently, Romney thinks America’s debt problem can be fixed by picking up pennies along Sesame Street.

Pressed to explain how he would balance the federal budget while cutting trillions of dollars in taxes, the allegedly masterful debater offered up just two specifics: He would repeal “Obamacare” (even though the Congressional Budget Office says the healthcare act actually reduces deficit spending) and eliminate the federal subsidy to the Public Broadcasting System.

Directly addressing beleaguered debate moderator Jim Lehrer, the former anchor of the PBS "NewsHour," Romney said, “I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS.... I like PBS, I love Big Bird, I actually like you, too, but I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.” ...

So, after many long months of campaigning and promising to cut the deficit while also cutting taxes, the single genuine and specific spending reduction Romney has stipulated is the one one-hundredth of a percent of federal expenditures that helps pay for Big Bird, Downton Abbey and the rest of the PBS lineup. Defenders of PBS were quick to point out that eliminating the federal subsidy for public television would trim an amount equal to just six hours – 360 minutes – of spending at the Pentagon.

It seems as if it would be more effective to leave PBS with its minuscule piece of federal largess and, instead, cut six hours – or maybe 24 or 48 hours – of military spending, right? Apparently not to Romney. Rather than trimming the Defense Department budget, he has proposed a radical spike in defense outlays that would take military spending to the highest level in 60 years.

Apparently teaching pre-schoolers colors, letters, and numbers is less important than dropping bombs on them from drones.

Very scary man, him.

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Blogger John Gardner said...

I'm rather *shrug* on this PBS/etc stuff. Is there really any reason that in this day and age with a billion tv channels that the government needs to subsidize TV?

Yes, I realize that its a tiny amount of money relative to the rest of the budget. But that isn't a reason, that's an excuse. What is the reason it should keep funding PBS? Because that's the way it's been done for so long? Because there's no educational content on any other channels? Because the quality of the content is better? Just because there are very little advertising?

I also find it fascinating that the comparisons are of the PBS budget to the military budget instead of comparing it to the costs of other federal programs, like Medicare (larger than defense) or Social Security (larger than defense)

Speaking of tiny amounts of money, Sesame Street would be fine without the support of the Federal Government. The vast majority of its funding comes from merchandising and licensing.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

On this, dear nephew, I can only recommend you pull your head out of your ass.

Social Security and Medicare are NOT social welfare programs. Both are funded by all of us via payroll deductions.

I paid into both nearly all of my working life, as did both your parents and all four of your grandparents. We fucking PAID for it. It's our money.

The fact that Congress has used it as an ATM machine is another issue entirely.

And as to why the Pentagon and Defense Department budgets are such good targets is that many of us are tired of being in a perpetual state of war in which only the corporate defense contractors are making money, along with the Chinese, who floated the loans OFF THE BUDGET for all eight years of the W administration.

Even the Pentagon doesn't want a lot of these programs.

For Crissakes, you're a bright, well-intentioned man: PAY ATTENTION.

2:11 PM  
Blogger thurbers said...

As Diane has pointed out, Social Security and Medicare have a separate funding stream, so they are a different discussion entirely. So you are wrong. The largest discretionary funding in the budget is defense. I would also point out that the American Defense budget is larger then what the next 10 countries spend all together. And yes, China's spending is increasing, but it still hasn't hit half ours.

Meanwhile, we are cutting all the things that would make us truly competitive with China. Our aging infrastructure ignored, our research and development largely eliminated, but the most egregious one of these being education, and though much of our true shortsightedness is that we are not funding the production of scientists and engineers, some of it is that we are aren't funding enough early education. Every few years there is a study that shows that Sesame Street increases reading and math levels for our children. Isn't that alone worth a $1.50 from you? Because that is your share of the government support of PBS. PBS is a bargain. The Defense budget is a bloated, pork filled megamonster that is killing us. And not just because it is wasting our resources, but because of the false sense of power it has given the more psychotic of our leaders. (Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, anyone?)

3:36 PM  

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