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. trishonthemountain

    Totally disagree with Gov. Romney. Terrible to do away with PBS funding. Terrible to change Medicare. Terrible to give more tax breaks for the wealthy. Terrible to increase interest on student loans. Terrible to increase military spending. Romney would be terrible for America, especially the millions of working class Americans.

    October 5, 2012 at 4:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      But Obama would be worse for America.

      October 5, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. mary

    All business, 'Bottom line Mitt'...
    Good bye big bird.. Little kids cry, but you will get over it..
    those rich guys havnt made their third or fourth billion yet.. so suck it up little kids..~!!
    Good bye big bird~!

    October 5, 2012 at 4:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. worldcares

    Mr. Romney,for many years, the states have had yearly state festivals to raise monies to support PBS.
    You want to cut PBS?
    What else are you going to cut?
    You are ruthless and depending on Paul Ryan to get you the vote.

    October 5, 2012 at 5:23 am | Report abuse |
  4. worldcares

    In my liftime, we have always had a strong military. That is a given.

    October 5, 2012 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. Casey Collins

    I think the President should latch on to this Big Bird thing....It is the perfect example of how Romney is. Come in, take over, and lay off the workers, leverage the company out, and scoop profits. Who cares if anyone's lives are destroyed along the way? He will run this nation like a private equity firm, or like China. No regulations, no saftety nets for the unemployed and the rich get richer. Guess what folks, the rich don't spend, only the middle class do. We're all sunk with Romney in the house. Wolf in sheeps clothing is an understatement, because he only one in a pack also known as his backers.

    October 5, 2012 at 5:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. Maggie

    Big Bird sacrificed on an altar of bullion by biillionaires! Just what the kiddies need to see. And all because any support for PBS would have to come from (choke) . . . . China????? Who the hell is smoking what?

    October 5, 2012 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. Grace K.

    This doesn't sound like that Romney is interested in creating jobs for Americans. Doesn't sound like too that he cares for the education of our youth. Romney we have seen and herd during the debate was a totally different Romney that we know since he decided to run for president. He keeps on changing his words and promises and his face. He even tanned himself before he spoked in front of the Hispanic crowed. Who really is this Romney????? This Romney confusing us, it's too hard to trust him.
    Are we going to be better off with him than with our present president? Can we afford another 4 years to go back to the old system, where we have been that caused our situation now? Shall we allow him to experiment with our life? No way we should let him, I will never ever vote for this shady person. He is acting like a SALES MAN than a president.
    He don't care for the 47% because for Romney knows he can't get nothing from them. Is this the kind of president we wanted to lead us??? Now he don't care for THE BIG BIRD and HE DON"T CARE FOR THE 47%.

    October 5, 2012 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. Lord Toronaga

    "Big Turkey" is in the office now. Time to shut down Sesame Street White House.

    October 5, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • fayem1

      We the people will not let that happen, we are going to turn out in big numbers to re-elect the President because all of his style aside Romney/Ryan have no substance and we won't be followed by them. So spin baby spin, maybe the President wasn't as animated but maybe he was tired because he isn't a candidate like Romney he is actually the President and spent his day doing the job not practicing doing it.
      We will keep the real thing and now lets watch our Joe get lyin Ryan to explain how his fellow candidate just threw his budget and ideology under the bus in Wed. debate.

      Obama/Biden 2012

      October 5, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Lord Toronaga

      I love the 5 million job creation lie. As fact checked by CNN. And the blatant jobs report lie published today. So many people stopped looking...but Obama counts that as a positive drop in the jobs report. Sesame Street White House. Let's not even talk about "Fast and Furious". Maybe if the agents were Black like Trayvon it would have mattered to him.

      October 5, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. Real Ville

    Government is not your baby's daddy, you are. Did Sesame Street train us to be dependent? Was life so horrible before Sesame Street? Big bird is great, but he needs to feed himself. Let the fundraising .... continue! Let the people who love Big Bird more dig a little deeper to support him and his great friends.

    October 5, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  10. Fausto Miro

    With Romney nobody is safe, not even Big Bird! The Corporate Raider is coming!

    October 5, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bazooka

    For the record – Romney did not say that we must fire Big Bird, you bird brains. He rightfully said that we must stop borrowing money from China to fund frivolous government luxuries in our time of great need. PBS is supposed to be listener-supported. If you still want to see Big Bird, then by all means contribute directly to PBS and, if enough of your friends do likewise, then it will remain on the air. BUT USE MY PRECIOUS TAX MONEY FOR ESSENTIALS and STOP BORROWING MONEY THAT MY KIDS AND GRANDKIDS WILL HAVE TO REPAY.

    October 5, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff

    PBS gets MILLIONS from selling big bird merchandise that the taxpayers never see a dime of, so no big bird will not have any problems if the government cuts their subsidies.

    October 5, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  13. garypaul54

    I'm not against military spending but I'm against 60 dollars for a wrench that cost 4 dollars at lowes.

    October 5, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • DCaf

      And I'm against paying for tattoos, manicures, booze, drugs, etc through the EBT system.

      October 5, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  14. Helene

    Mitt will be a big problem. I would not trust him as far as I can throw a house and that is not far at all. He keeps changing with the wind. He scares me.

    October 5, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  15. garypaul54

    How can you possible be against PBS why? The same people that are against it have no problem with a billion dollar weapon system that's sole purpose is to kill and destroy.

    October 5, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • whorhay

      Indeed, it is comical to see any politician spend any serious amount of time on the issue of funding PBS. So few tax dollars go to this that it's ridiculous, not to mention PBS gets most of it's funding through other sources.

      How about we focus a little on subsidizing ethanol or the big oil companies a little less, the numbers for those issues alone dwarf the entire budget for PBS.

      October 5, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
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