Fact check: Will Romney send Big Bird to the unemployment line?
October 4th, 2012
04:09 PM ET

Fact check: Will Romney send Big Bird to the unemployment line?

Mitt Romney said that he loves Big Bird but that the "Sesame Street" resident is not important enough for America to go into debt with China to subsidize him and his PBS friends. Does this mean our feathered friend could lose his job under a Romney administration? Would he then become a drain on our society? Are there retraining opportunities to become a St. Louis Cardinal or Baltimore Oriole? What family does Big Bird have? Who the heck is this yellow thing?

How likely is it that Big Bird gets the pink slip?

Our yellow feathered friend may be hoping he'll be able to mind his Ps and Qs on "Sesame Street" but might be feeling a little worried about his bills while the cloud of losing his job hangs over his head. How likely is it?

Sesame Workshop, which produces "Sesame Street," says on its website that 93% of production costs for the show are covered by licensing activities or corporate sponsorships, CNNMoney.com reports.

But Children's Television Workshop, which helps produce "Sesame Street," gets a decent number of grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Here are the numbers for those ready to count with the Count: In 2009, it received $2.5 million in total. In 2010, a federal Ready to Learn grant, which helps put on educational TV shows, provided about $1.5 million, and the overall digital presence for "Sesame Street" and friends got $8 million to help spread educational messages and games online in 2011.

So maybe Big Bird should be taking this seriously. Even if most of the funding goes to his friends, a change in funding might put them out of work too if Romney were to go through with his idea to cut subsides to PBS. And that doesn't sound like it'd help all the people in his neighborhood.

It isn't the first time Big Bird has found himself in the middle of a national budget debate.

Last year, he survived a brush with budget-cut-hungry Republicans in the House, who voted to slash funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, only to see it added back into the final government funding deal.

What happens to Big Bird's health insurance if he gets axed?

If our "Sesame Street" friend did join the 12.5 million Americans who are unemployed, his joyful tone may switch to a sad rendition of "Can you tell me how to get to the unemployment line?"

There's good news and bad news for Big Bird. It appears if he loses his job, he doesn't have many dependent family members, so while health insurance may be an issue, he won't have any kids or family members to support. Phew. He may try to give a shout to his Granny Bird and Nani Bird (his aunt), who helped raise him, for a little extra cash, though. (We’ve heard that idea before.)

On the upside, Big Bird still has plenty of time ahead of him – well, depending on which “official record” you use.

His boss swears he’s 6 years old, but we’re a little wary. That bird has been flocking around TV for ages, 40 years to be exact. And unless he’s a Benjamin Button bird, he’s got a lot of explaining to do. It seems like we may need to stop and ask Mr. Bird for his official paperwork. But that’s a different debate.

For now, we’ll take the bird at his word.

At 6 years old, he'll have some time to refocus and perhaps try to get an education to bolster his options when he looks for work again. After all, we know Big Bird is good with children, so surely he can handle some rowdy sports fans, right?

Who’s to say he can’t get a degree and find a new home away from Sesame Street, and if he doesn’t have to deal with mountains of school debt, he should be able to afford to move to, say, Baltimore or St. Louis to help rally fans around the Orioles or Cardinals.

Let’s just hope he’s OK with dyeing his feathers a different color. (We aren’t sure whether his new health insurance plan would cover that.)

And while health care may always be an issue (hey, you never know about avian flu), the good news is, he has plenty of time to wait and see whether he'll have to be worried about Medicare down the line.

Would Big Bird outsource himself instead?

Sometimes you can debate whether tax breaks for going overseas are good. But for Big Bird, the temptation might be there, if nothing else than to frustrate Romney after his dig.

Big Bird, whose "Sesame Street" owners said he went to sleep early Wednesday night and wondered whether he'd "missed anything last night,” may even be on the phone right now with his cousin Da Niao in China.

Romney said he'd want to cut subsidies to PBS because he's "not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it."

That may have been a big blow to the yellow feathered friend, because Big Bird shares a special love for China.

Big Bird went to China after he was inspired by a scroll in Chinatown in the first international special based on "Sesame Street." Besides being fascinated by the culture, he thought it'd be great for the two countries to have a good working relationship; there's so much they could learn from each other.

"Everyone in America wants to know about China, right? What a great thing it would be if a great big American bird went to meet the beautiful Chinese bird," Big Bird said. "I mean, she could tell me everything about China, and I could come home and tell everyone here."

Let’s hope his date isn’t a Peking duck. Then his goose would be cooked.

– – – – – –

So that was a bit of fun. Here’s how the real CNN Fact Check Team broke down Wednesday’s debate and the rest of Campaign 2012.

And comedian Dean Obeidallah has fond memories of Big Bird and hopes he will get a reprieve.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Mitt Romney • Politics • TV
soundoff (686 Responses)
  1. coffeeman

    Looks like Romney may not fully understand the phrase "JOB CREATION" after all????????????

    October 4, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Buckhippo

    Private equity firms (I have my own private equity fund BTW) have one goal and that is to make money. Period. If that means profits are higher for the owners of the firm and those who get returns from the fund, then it just doesn't matter what it takes to get there. Make no mistake about it: people are NOT a private equity fund's problem. And if people actually studied ANYTHING in business, they would realize that people like Mitt Romney don't actually care about people; they care about business. THAT is the difference between Obama and Romney. If you have a business and care about business so business can make money regardless of how it gets there, then Romney is your guy (get rid of regulations, let the big guys do as they will). If you actually care about society and people's welfare and understand that even in business, you can't just toss aside human beings for a buck, then Obama is your guy. Clearly there are a lot of uneducated sheep that are voting for Romney, because, well, they somehow the guy worth over 250million at least gives a damn about the guy who makes 25k a year. Do people ACTUALLY think Romney cares about THEM?

    October 4, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Clearly no matter how many time you say it, it doesn't make it true, but clearly off topic.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kermit The Frog

      Clearly no matter how many time you say it, it doesn't make it true, but clearly off topic.

      I think he nailed it right on the head.
      It reminded me of the Christmas story about scrooge.
      Anything for a buck, never has a happy ending.

      De Frog.

      October 4, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dazzle ©

    smh at the obvious censorship.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bill Lynch

    Obama is either president or saves millions in tax breaks. Wins either way!

    October 4, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fearless Freep

      Romney is either president or saves millions in tax breaks. Wins either way!

      Works both ways, doesnt it .

      October 4, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    I got an idea. Keep Big Bird and the Children's Television Workshop and quit sending money to Pakistan. Quit spending millions on stuff like tobacco advertising. (People should know enough to quit smoking by now if they so desire). Quit doing stupid things like the Navy paying scientists to determine if ducks are gay (google it). Every President should have to watch too movies. "The American President" and "Dave".

    October 4, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • marjee123

      And quit giving those companies those breaks for sending jobs overseas Romney said isn't true. But if it wasn't true why did the House of Representatives vote NO on ending those subsidies. And if Big Bird isn't important enough how about the billions in oil subsides they give oil companies. I guess it is how the rich see it. It's not import for programs for our children while they have to have move to prop up oil companies and corporations that send jobs overseas. Yeah right.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Zippity_Doo_Daddy

    The only reason that PBS is in the crosshairs is because the GOP sees it as being a part of the mythical left-wing liberal media. It seems to me that most people on the right won't be satisfied until the news is their vision of what is uniased, that is, soley for the right wing point of view, and that a multi-party system in the USA is merely the numerous parties all adhering to the same basic right wing political idealogy in a similar way the the Eats Germany was multi-party but each professed the same beliefs as that of the communist party.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ben

    If PBS goes, Sesame Street goes or goes somewhere else. If you want to try to create a "lie" here, it is you, CNN, that is being dishonest. Everyone listening knew EXACTLY what he meant and you are playing word games (like Obama is today).

    October 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fearless Freep

      Hello Ben,
      This is Kermit.
      Mister Romney wants to cut the 1% that PBS gets,
      but add 4% to the Pentagon, that the pentagon has not
      even asked for.
      So a few more bombs is better than the wonderful gift
      that children have ?

      How sad.

      October 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kermit The Frog

      Fearless, stop using my name,
      or i will send Gonzo to your house.

      De Frog.

      October 4, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Henry

    There were wholesome children's programs, science programs and public information programs long before PBS was created. Even without federal funding, important programs like Big Bird and Nova (and this is going to rot the socks of liberals), whose largest funder is the Koch Brothers Science Foundation which will continue to support the program.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Guest

    Romney nailed it. when you're trying to get a budget balanced everything has to be looked no matters if seem small to some. Even though he clearly spoke extremists still refuse to hear what he said.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Why Why Why

      thanks, gorp.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • marjee123

      He might have nailed it but he bent the nail and had to pull it out because his whole pretense was a big fat lie. If he wanted to save money how about stopping the millions that is subsidied to the NSCAR races. Now that's education isn't it. No wonder the people that go there love republicans with all that money they give them. As I said republicans love to waste money on what they want but when it comes to our children they don't want pay a cent. Oh those family family values.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CR112

    I loved this article. Nice job:)

    October 4, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kim S

    Romney is a blatant hypocrite. He has sent more money to Communist China than we will ever know about.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mike Savick

    If you know anyone or business who lost accounts receivable when a customer went bankrupt you will understand the issues. Bain Capital, born in Romney's image, removed huge fees from these companies knowing that they were owed to employees, venders, contractors, stock holders etc. While allowed by lax laws, morally taking money that is owed to someone else is theft!

    October 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mark Andrews

    "Mitt Romney said that he loves Big Bird but that the "Sesame Street" resident is not important enough for America to go into debt with China to subsidize him and his PBS friends." The real question is why China would continue to subsidize Social Security, Medicare, and the entire defense establishment of their chief economic, political & military rival, the United States? Who needs nuclear weapons when you can simply stop buying T-Bills? Or re-denominate an immense pile of dollars into a new, reserve currency?

    October 4, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. 0rangeW3dge

    READ MY LIPS : No N e w W a r s

    October 4, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. steve c

    Remember a couple of months ago? All the public indignation over cutting funding for Sesame Street to the kids in Palistine? How about last week's Syira photo of the refugee kid living in an olive grove; wearing a "Sponge Bob, Square Pants" jumper? Are cartoons the bed-rock of our foerign policy? Is this the best that America can export? (and how the heck do you go about translating Sponge Bob into a foreign language, anyway?)

    Obama admin cut funding to PBS for foriegn "Sesame Street"; Romney says he will do the same... what's the problem? Sounds like bi-partisean agreement on this one. We have to cut spending somewhere / heck, EVERYWHERE, and yeah, some kid somewhere in the world might missout on the Big-Bird experience, but we have got to start SOMEWHERE!

    October 4, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hammerdown

      Start with the bloated defense budget.
      Stop hurting our children for more bombs we dont need.
      Got that ?
      Good.

      October 4, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
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