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. chan

    lol and yet all the bankers etc involved in scamming us just keep walking.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. masterochi

    Federal education programs prepare our next generation to compete with all the other countries. While Sesame Street may not seem that important, letting kids watch Sesame Street given the United States a real boost in the world market.
    Currently, big corporations import foreign workers for many high-tech jobs because they can not find qualified American workers. These foreigners come here, learn the latest technologies, then return to their homeland and start businesses that compete with American business. We are giving our best training to people who go on to compete with us.
    Why? Because the foreign countries invest more in youth education, and make going to college affordable for their students.

    Cutting education, even just things as small as Sesame Street, leads to America becoming a second-rate power in the world. Short-sighted budget hawks only care about lowering their share of the tax responsibility, and do not care if America slips into obscurity as long as they get a tax break.

    Patriots pay their taxes, Scoundrels send their money to the Cayman Islands, or Switzerland, so they can escape paying their fair share.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mothers Finest

      Federal education programs prepare our next generation to compete with all the other countries...

      Most of "No Child Left Behind" was a complete disaster.
      Instead of educating children,
      find anyway possible to pass the child or hold
      the school or teacher responsible.

      Its a Republican dream, keep our children STOOPID.
      You swallowed.

      October 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DJ

    For all we know Big Bird is selling military secrets to communist China. If so he should be tared and defeathered.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • History Bear

      Wrong, if he was selling secrets to China he'd be safe because the short sited, narrow minded Right Wing love China for monetary reasons, but hate those nasty commie cubans.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dorkus Maximus

    Would Romney borrow money from China to pay for the military? Fine, then pay for the military with borrowed funds and pay for PBS with tax revenues.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. PDXSerric

    So... Romney says he's pro-education. Guess his definition is a little different than the rest of the world.... let me guess; preschool kids are welcome to the best education in the world – as long as mom adn dad can pay through the nose for it.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Matt

    If you think Big Bird is so important then pay for it yourself by giving PBS a donation. Leave my wallet out of it please.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2tor

      HAHA! Loginc never works on the left. Nice shot though.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

      That's is exactly what I think about the $2 TRILLION in UNSPECIFIED military spending that R'Money want to do.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. draxta

    Big Turd and Obumbler will both be out!!

    October 4, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

    R'Money... bad for PBS, little kids, and other living things.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • TODAY

      Obama 2012...Romney on Holy Never

      October 4, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. PigBodine

    I would be happy to tax the rich in extreme before I would fire BigBird

    October 4, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. macbil


    October 4, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2tor

      eats the heck out of some lib hiding in a bird suit pushing immorality on our kids.

      October 4, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Profit

    You're kidding, right? This is like watching Mr. Burns on the Simpsons. Romney fires Big Bird! So very pathetic.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dave in Arizona

    We spend over 4 times more on our military than China does on theirs (and Russia spends even less than China) and Republicans have the gall to spend MORE money there while cutting PBS, while at the same time trying to make the case they want to improve education?

    How full of crap can they get?

    October 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Paramad

    PBS as I stated before and please look it up yourself takes .00014% of the national budget or around $550 million.Folks this is not about Big Bird this is about uncomfortable information that keeps appearing on PBS. Most people of the conservative bent don't like to hear facts the GOP has stated that.( Mitthead's nomination) If you have any doubts about PBS presenting both both sides how many times have you heard Jim Lehrer say "We invited so and so to offer their side of the issue but they declined" The right has always hated PBS and there have been numerous threats to shut off funding though out the past several years look it up.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tigrr

    This is what the last GOP WH did to America and the World....

    see youtube - CIA Asset Susan Lindauer Can Now Speak 10 years after 9-11.

    Yeah, Bush WH did it. Lied about everything. McCain and most of Congress knew.

    More on Veterans Today site.

    October 4, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. PigBodine

    b-b-b-bird, bird, bird, bird is the word

    October 4, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
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