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. savethebird

    Rumors – Bain Capital wants to buy Sesame Street, outsource all the jobs to China and then start making a profit on the merchandising. 5% goes to Romney in welfare check.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. greg

    I was born in 1968. PBS and Sesame Street(1969) helped me learn ot read at a very early age. PBS is good for the US. I still remember "Electric Company" with "Fargo North Decoder"....

    October 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Education for the tykes

    Sesame Street probably got a lot of tykes brushed up on their math and ABC's.
    There is no arithmetic to take a survey of how many. I used to get bummed more PBS shows weren't on the air.
    The world is turning backwards.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. phearis

    Soooooo, it's now Big Bird's and PBS's fault we're in massive debt with China..... What's next Mittens, blaming Bigfoot? So spending about $300-million per year on PBS is going to put the United States over the Red Line but spending $300-million per day on the Afghanistan War is perfectly fine. Please tell me I'm not the only one who finds that laughable.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Riot

      It is funny that there was just over an hour of dialogue and the only thing that has made real headlines is that Big Bird may get the boot. Has this Country lost it's mind???

      October 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • mastershake7

      Everyone is talking about Big Bird b/c that is the only detail Romney has given us about his plan. He said he liked a lot of things about the AFA and Dodd Frank, but would repeal them. He didnt state what he would put in their place to make sure the same number of people were insured or Wall Street wouldnt gamble w/ American dollars. What really worried me was he said he would cut PBS, which is about .012% of our national budget, yet increase military spending by 2 trillion dollar. Military spending accounts for 37% of our budget. Romney has been running for president for 8 years and the best thing he could come up with that he would cut is PBS!! If that does not worry you then there may be no hope fore this country!

      October 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Savtri.

    Hey romney, is this how you are going to come become president, by taking a famous little kids icon?

    October 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Savtri – Good point. Take 7% of Disney revenue away and we will no longer have Mickey Mouse. SAVE THE MOUSE.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Riot

      Maybe it's time for Big Bird to get a real job. There are sports teams out there that pay their Mascots really well... Maybe this could turn out to be a good thing for him.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joe

    If PBS has its Funding taken away, it will still broadcast as always. If anything it will be more efficient. Those that argue that it will stop broadcasting are delusional.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. AdmrlAckbar

    Well he already supported the privatization of the Electric Company >.>

    October 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gisthatright

    The US Government needs to buy more bombs.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      gisthatright. Just Vote Obama out and we will have less bombs

      October 4, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Laerrus

    That's funny because the US Government is already massively in debt to China.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gwen

      Yeah, thank's to George Bush....

      October 4, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mavent

    This is typical of what I find so repulsive about RepubliTards™. PBS accounts for maybe .000000000001% of the national debt, but because it represents learning, Romney wants to cut it. If there are two sides to an issue, you can rest assured that conservatives take the side that allows them to be d-bags.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sam

    Mitt the NitWit has done it again! Now he's attacking Big Bird? I'm from Massachusetts and I'm not a liberal. I'm a true undeclared independent. I can tell you that Romney sucked as our governor and he'll suck as a president.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe #2

      I can tell you that Obama sucked as our President and he'll suck BIG TIME as a 2ND TERM president.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Yep. Mitt did such a bang-up job here in Massachusetts by running the state into the ground, let's put him in charge of the whole country so he can really f*** things up. Great plan. I also love him saying that he knows how to create jobs. Yeah. For other countries. He excels at that. Here at home? Not so much. I also don't know why everyone seems to think he "won" the debate. He didn't really answer any questions, just evaded them the way he always does while looking down like he was napping and smirking like an arrogant a$$#0|e. I still want to see his taxes from years past – the hypocrite won't show them, but required his running mate to show his. He's hiding something – probably donations to unsavory beneficiaries and offshore deposits.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gisthatright

    Repubi-cons don't like PBS because they don't get to bash liberals on that government funded channel. So they want to kill it. Have now for a long time.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Probably some true to your statement. A channel that liberal use to bash the GOP would be gone as well.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dubrats

    no one has problem with public tv....the problem is we are borrowing the money from china to fund it...it's got to end...someone has to be the adult in the room and say....we can't buy that toy for you today...we need to save up for it timmy.....anyone who works for a living and is on a budget gets it....the rest on the gov't dole could really care less where the $ is coming from....and look where that has gotten us.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • gisthatright

      DO have any idea how the US government spends on worthless items, like bombs and blimps for spying. Our children need big bird you monster.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      gisthatright – You must be a Democrat. Lousy argument – so you call people names.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Riot

      Well put and thank you for your comment. Well said.....

      October 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      China has 8% of our foreign debt. Why the uproar over borrowing from China? Why not say that the 300M came from taxes and the money from China went to pay for something else? Show me on paper where we actually borrowed money from China to pay for PBS. He just wants to cut as much of everything as he can so he can take a bigger tax break. I say a great way to save money and get politicians' priorities in order would be to freeze their assets while in office and make them work for minimum wage during that time. That will make them understand what it's like in the real world.

      October 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Reload

    After 40 years, Big Bird needs to get off public assistance.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • gisthatright

      So do big banks and car companies.

      October 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big Burd


      October 4, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jason

    Well I ran the numbers and it seems that cancelling PBS will give us a surplus of $3.76 Trillion.

    October 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheBirdsTheWord


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

      Then it's settled.. All in favor say I

      October 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
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