Mitt Romney informed debate moderator Jim Lehrer that some of the funding that fills his paycheck may be in jeopardy under a Romney presidency, once again bringing many to the barricades to defend PBS. The candidate was simply bringing new prominence to remarks reported back in August.
The candidate announced his intentions at least as early as mid-August in an interview with Forbes – included on the chopping block with public broadcasting were Amtrak and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) is one of the nation’s leading PBS defenders and frequently is seen in Washington with Big Bird and other Sesame Street characters during the many attacks on public broadcasting by budget-axe-wielding Republicans. He said, “Mitt Romney says he loves Big Bird but its Big Oil that gets his affection. In a budgetary blow to children and parents everywhere, Mitt Romney would take an axe to PBS while shielding billions in taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies. Mitt Romney’s budget priority is to protect $40 billion in subsidies for the most profitable oil companies on the planet but put an end to Elmo’s World.”
Earl Blumenthal (D-OR) also joined in on the defense. He said, “The Republican effort to attack public broadcasting and force Sesame Street take advertising betrays an appalling lack of appreciation and understanding of what public broadcasting is and represents. A recent study demanded by public broadcasting’s enemies in Congress reveals that there is no alternative to public funding and that advertising on Sesame Street would actually result in less money for public broadcasting because people would refuse to voluntarily contribute to watch commercial advertising. Perhaps we need Big Bird to educate Governor Romney about the value of public broadcasting and investing in services for the American public instead of coldly shutting them down.”
During an appearance on CNN, PBS’s Paul Karger said, With the enormous problems facing our country, the fact that we are the focus is unbelievable to me, particularly given the fact that at another part of the debate, both candidates talked about the importance of education. We’re America’s biggest classroom.”
Free Press issued a fiscal defense of PBS. It noted:
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting budget is about $445 million dollars. That’s less than $1.50 per person per year — or about one one-hundredth of one percent of the federal budget.
Here are five things that cost taxpayers more than public media funding:
* The budget for military marching bands: $500 million a year
* The U.S. House of Representatives budget for office expenses, mail and personnel: $727 million a year
* Three Global Hawk Drones (which Congress is pushing for even though the Defense Department hasn’t requested them): $633 million.
* The foreign tax credit that credits companies for any taxes they pay in other countries: $850 million a year
* Two days of the war in Afghanistan: $600 million.