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. Rose

    We're all about Disney, do kids even watch Big Bird anymore? LOL I didn't even know it was on anymore.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tiff

      You must not have kids if you didn't think Big Bird and Sesame Street were not on anymore. Also, I think we need to stop looking at this small part of Romney's campain and look at the bigger pictures. Like Taxes, Healthcare and actual teachers in the classroom. Do you realize that most teachers are in a classwith minimal government help and teaching 30-40 students. They are spending thousands of their own paycheck money to help their students be successful. Teachers deserve better than this. Our country deserves better than this.

      October 4, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. pogojo

    I cannot believe while America is in the trouble it is, Dems are worried about big bird, how sad

    October 4, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna Tull

      And Romney is worried about the 47%.

      October 4, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bilbo211

      This issue is really just there to further separate the kind of people who believe education is a cornerstone to civilization and the kind of people who believe saving each American $1.35 / year is a solution to our problems. The truth is, the only reason someone would propose cutting public broadcasting is because they are a jerk... and they are trying to get votes from other jerks.

      October 4, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John the Electrician

    Austerity at home and war abroad. Mitts plan. We should call him Ceasar.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Valeria

      Funny John that's exactly what I think about Obama.

      October 4, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy

      To John The Electrician. Poverty at home and war in the streets. Obama. We should call him a Thug. The 47% need to take a drug test before they receive their freebees.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John the Electrician

    Mitt's plan is to silence all but right wing media, sell off public lands and liquidate the 47%.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Valeria

      I guess you missed the debates John. I didn't hear a thing about the land except to hear Mitt Romney say "The only land we ever took from anyone was land that we needed to bury our dead soldiers on." Mitt wants to open FEDERAL lands so we can drill on it. Double the permits not cut them in half like Obama did. Just think how low your gas price would go with that. First I heard all from the liberals all about how Mitt stands with the rich. Now its the 47%. I guess I like that idea anyway since it is the rich who provide your jobs. But the 47%? Where does that come from? Must be the middle class. Well I am all for that too. Isn't that where you want to be? The American dream? own a home? your own little piece of God's acre? Yep that's what I like. In any case Mitt won the debate in case you haven't heard. And he's gonna win the presidency. Back to being America ! Gooo Mitt !

      October 4, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BO is a LOSER

    This is the liberal come back to the massive beat down obummer just took...The GOP want to fire big bird. That mean mean Ronmey wants to fire big bird.....whaaaaaaa

    October 4, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    @John The Electrician
    You should rest your tongue across 14.7 KV.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. malibujim

    Willard Romney gets a lot of satisfaction out of firing people, and couldn't wait to announce it last night, that he would fire Big Bird ! Personnally, I'd rather kep Big Bird on the air, and dedut it from Israel's aid.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. tomnikoly

    China only holds about 8% of US debt.

    Stop using the word "communist" and grow up.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. tomnikoly

    This isn't the first time Romney has mentioned cutting funding to PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. herbert

    By the way is there any money being spent to send radio signal to cuba ( blocked by cuban government ) still big bird has more value than that

    October 4, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Larry

    once a bully always a bully, things have not changed much

    October 4, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. justanotherguy60

    I wouldn't have a problem for dropping PBS from our tax payer burden. The amount of money they collect from sales and fund raising through people like us, should more than help pay for it. All one needs to do is see at the beginning or at the end of the program to see who helps fund it. Not one little corporation but the huge ones, the ones that the 99% say that are evil. Yes, those, they probably even taught the same ones that see capitalism evil, oh boooo hooo. Let PBS go public and it will survive.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Victoria

    I am curious Mr. Romney. Do you have any statistics to back your China claim? Last time that I checked the President does more international trade with Europe. Personally, I cannot stand you. I will vote for Obama.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Victoria

    Mitt Romney is stupid. He even watch PBS as a kid. He is selfish. PBS gets its funding from private endowments. You suck Romney!

    October 4, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JohnnyYuma61

    Big Bird I'm not concerned with. Obama is the one that should get a pink slip.

    October 4, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Goupe

      I agree. All Romney is saying is that anything that is being funded by the government has to be looked at. We need to stop borrowing from China to have our cake and eat it USA living style. Whether it is Big Bird, PBS, or you name it, if it is worth something to the American people, then some private investor is going to buy it up and make money. That is how a free enterprise is suppose to work, not for the government to pay for everything. The government should stay in the business of protecting America with our armed forces and leave regular business to the private sector. Maybe then a small business owner could grow their business and America could once again be the greatest nation in the world. You think it is now? If you do, China and many other nations are laughing at you as they are growing on our reliance on them to survive. Just look around your home and count how much of it was made in China or some other country. Jobs need to come back to the USA. The last four years has shown no improvement and has actually made the debt, jobs, and our armed forces/position in the world as a leader..... all worse. So vote not on what the candidates say, but on what the current politians in office (President and Congress) has done for the economy the last four years. It is time for a change starting at the top in the White House.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
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