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QUESTION: Is The Big Bird Debate Getting Out Of Control In The Presidential Race?

Stemming from Republican candidate Mitt Romney's comments during the last debate about cutting funding to PBS, President Barack Obama has pounced on the issue, arguing how it highlights his opponent's fiscal priorities.

QUESTION: Is the Big Bird Debate in the presidential race getting out of control?

Poor Big Bird.

Once a tall, yellow puppet in America's most kid-friendly neighborhood, the Sesame Street icon has now found himself (we think it's a him) at the center of the ugliest of contests: the presidential race.

After Republican challenger Mitt Romney stated that he'd cut funding to PBS during the last debate, Big Bird has become a poticial lightening rod. The comment set off a flurry of Tweets the night of the debate and became part of the water-cooler discussion the following day.

Yes. Big Bird. The nasaly, 7-foot-tall creature who mingles with the likes of Elmo and Snuffaluffagus.

Now, his name is under discussion in The Beltway by such political personalities as James Carville and Fox News.

The reason? President Barack Obama's campaign has hammered Romney's Big Bird reference to highlight the challenger's fiscal priorities.

"Thank God someone is getting tough on Big Bird," Obama said during a stump speech last week in Denver. "We didn't know Big Bird was driving the deficit."

The campaign even released a television ad that's ruffling some feathers. (No pun intended)

(Click on the media gallery to view the ad)

But the Romney campaign counters that it's a sad commentary when the president cares more about a kid-oriented puppet rather than fixing the economy.

On Tuesday, Big Bird was all the talk among D.C. media. "Obama's Big Bird Bet," read Politico.com's top story for much of the day.

The political spotlight on the winged celebrity became so intense that Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit group behind Sesame Street, asked the president's campaign to remove the television ad, saying that it's a nonpartisan organization.

Ad or not, the fact is Big Bird has been thrust into the center of the race for the country's highest office.

We ask you, Patch users, is the debate over Big Bird in the presidential race out of control? Which candidate comes out looking worse? Tell us in the comments below.

Randy Walden October 10, 2012 at 01:58 AM
You play the big bird card when you have nothing else to offer.
Elaine Biggerstaff October 10, 2012 at 03:24 AM
No, you tell people the truth rather than lying to them. There is no Constitutional authority for the federal government to fund a leftwing propaganda, history revisionist, broadcast station.. And there is no reason why China should support Obama's failures to reign in deficit spending to support his failed economic policies.
dorimonsonfan October 10, 2012 at 04:17 AM
How many television networks thrive without government handouts? Pretty much all of them. What is pbs doing wrong that keeps them in need of continuous taxpayer welfare? Time to take away the pacifier from pbs so they can pull up their big boy pants.
Ken James October 10, 2012 at 04:29 AM
Randy, rather than repeat the Democrat 'catch phrase,' why not comment on the substance of the issue? What Romney said is that he will reduce our debt by eliminating unnecessary spending and he had the courage to provide an example of such a cut. I think most Americans recognize that to balance our budget, we have to reduce spending on non-essentials just as we do with our personal finances. What else do you have to offer?
Hoke Overland October 10, 2012 at 05:33 AM
It is unreal how low a campaign will go when the get their butt kicked. Obama has record fuel prices, high unemployment, small businesses folding and many in foreclosure. The best he can do is to tell us that Big Bird needs to remain on the dole? Even Sesame Street says that is not true: http://www.examiner.com/article/big-bird-s-a-one-percenter-inside-sesame-street-s-tax-return
dexterjibs October 10, 2012 at 05:40 AM
I agree with Romney. Why should we borrow money from CHina to pay for something that brings in tens of milions of dollars in toy and clothing sales every year? Look at other childrens programming that isn't on PBS and they survive in the private sector with sales on merchandise.
Gary Ocher October 10, 2012 at 02:09 PM
The comments here are decidedly right wing. Sure, spending cuts are necessary, but if BB is the only thing you can think of, you are essentially out of ideas.
John Arbeeny October 10, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Why have tax payers subsidize a brand name that has made millions in marketing? Only a tiny fraction of Sesame Street's budget actually comes from the Federal government so why continue it? They'll get along just fine without a dollar of tax payer money.
Randy Walden October 10, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Ken, you really don't know my position. Look who is promoting the big bird issue? We do not need 4 more years of someone learning how this works. Thursday night America will get a lesson on economics, and the truth. You are right four years and no balance budget, please. Bigger government is not the answer.
Mac In Edmonds October 10, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Romney had no specific actions he would take other than cut PBS funding. That was the best off the cuff thought he could come up with. We don't need to borrow from China. Trim the equivalent of 4 minutes per day from the Defense budget and fund Big Bird. Don't let the government do business with corporations that hide their tax responsibilities off shore. Obama inherited this mess from W who had to trump up WMD stories to go after Sadaam who had thumbed his nose at his pappy in Desert Storm. This is a Republican-policy generated financial situation, own it! Most thing in life and nature will seek equilibrium. The more one side pushes the extremes of benefits for corporations and the wealthy, the more contrast you see from the other side to push for social support systems for the disenfranchised. Support someone who can make the call to ruthlessly eliminate Bin Laden and still actually cares about the people who sit at their computers and make comments on little local sites like this. The people who reap the benefits of extreme wealth gained from rapacious financial deals don't comment here.
Megatron October 10, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Perspective! The US national debt is over 16 trillion. If you look at the statistics at usdebtclock dot org, there is no way out. If all the subsidized programs were stopped, it wouldn't make a difference. Who is really responsible? How about the 535 people in the Senate and Congress. Aren't they the ones in charge. How about not voting for any of them, ever again. It's time to end the left/right paradigm. There's a storm coming.
Ken James October 10, 2012 at 04:12 PM
You guys aren't serious, right? You know full well that PBS isn't the 'only' cut he would make. PBS was an example of foolish spending which he made because of the PBS debate moderator. Everyone knows this game... ANYthing he mentioned as an example would be used to demonize Romney. If he had said he would cut food stamps, he would be an evil rich villian. Or if he said he would cut subsidies to the solar companies he would be characterized as an "anti science" guy. Yes, the political process is very predictable and it inhibits anything but 'sound bite' commentary by the canddiates. We have ourselves to blame since we rather engage in this childish behavior. So Gary and Mac... you think the cutting of the PBS subsidy is the wrong cut to bring spending down and achieve fiscal balance... please tell us what you or your candidate would cut? The typical liberal response is military spending -- I'm not interested in a weaker military at all, but a thoughtful review would probably yield some savings. And, of course the liberals always want to raise taxes instead of cutting.... even though in one of those rare "even a broken clock is right twice a day" moments Obama said in 2012; "I don't want to raise income taxes on anyone in a weak economy." So for the critics of cutting PBS subsidies, please share what you and your candidate would cut that you could support. Maybe we can find common ground.
Ken James October 10, 2012 at 04:22 PM
You are correct, Randy. I misinterpreted your comment to mean that Romney was playing the BB card. Most of the comments here are to bash Romney for using the PBS subsidy as an example of non-essential spending that he would eliminate. What they are really saying is that they are disappointed that he didn't pick some other program such as solar subsidies or over payment of food stamps so they could further demonize him. But all they were provided is a BB subsidy which makes them look foolish when they try to make hay with that issue.
bigyaz October 10, 2012 at 05:33 PM
The Obama campaign jumped on the PBS issue because it was the ONLY specific Romney gave. He has steadfastly refused to offer any substantive cuts he would make, referring only to vague things like "loopholes." PBS is a non-issue (it would indeed survive without the subsidy). But if that's the best Romney can offer -- while gutlessly refusing to talk about the deep cuts he would have to make to fund his tax cuts for the upper class -- then he deserves to be called out on it.
Brent Champaco October 10, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Does anyone think it will come up during the vice presidential debate?
Ken James October 10, 2012 at 08:12 PM
That's not exactly correct, bigyaz... He also stated that the $2.5B subsidy to oil companies would not likely survive. In that same segment, he mentioned that Obama had authorized subsidies of $90B to 'green energy' companies, many that were owned by large political contributors to Obama, and that many of those companies had failed. As you know, the president will have to work with congress to get meaningful legislation to deal with spending cuts. He went to great lengths to expain that it would not be productive to announce details of a plan prior to engaging in discussions about the proposed changes with congress. Do do so, he explained, would inhibit the ability to reach bi-partisian support. For example, if he planned to cut non-essential subsidies to PBS now, might his political opponents use that statement to harm him politically? They might... and they did. How successful will Romney be in having a bi-partisian discussion about this now that every Democrat in congress has used that cut in their political advertisments? I understand that the Democrats are frustrated that Romney has not provided the details they want so that they can mischaracterize his position, but when you see what they have done with Big Bird, it makes Romney's strategy understandable. It's a shame that we can't have 'real' discussions about real topics, but that's what we have done with our political campaigns. Who will stop this nonsense first?
Trish Otterholt October 10, 2012 at 08:29 PM
With the President of PBS making an annual salary of $632,000., and the President of NPR making over one million dollars per year, it seems like they should be able to figure out how to make up the small percentage of their annual budget they would actually loose if they no longer receive a government handout.
Lise October 10, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Yes you are right, instead of refuting the runaway spending by the lib gov, all they had was that Romney was to stop subsidies for Big Bird, wow!
Pauline October 10, 2012 at 11:22 PM
With someone as wealthy as Mitt Romney paying 15% income tax, it seems like he'd be able to make up the small percentage he'd lose if we increased the income tax rate on millionaires and billionaires. But I guess it'd be better to cut the miniscule amount of the federal budget spent on something like PBS than to actually ask billionaires to pay a little more in taxes.
Ken James October 11, 2012 at 04:23 AM
Being the cynic that I am, I believe that the reason that the liberals like subsidizing PBS is because they can influence the content in both their news and children's shows. I listen to PBS often because I like hearing the left slanted version of the news and commentary. They are somewhat less vile than MSNBC (who I also watch for the same reason). I listen to about a 50/50 mix of liberal/conservative shows and I can't understand how there can be so many liberals left after comparing both sides over... several years. One side is based on American ideals which has made us a successful country, and the other side is represented by MSNBC.
Pauline October 11, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Are you responding to my comment about Romney paying 15% income tax? I should have said "income" tax, since his "income" comes from collecting dividends on investments. I find it ludicrous that someone whose entire "income" comes from walking to the mailbox to collect a dividend check pays about 1/2 the tax as someone whose income comes from actually WORKING. Oh, and then how much of that "income" is stashed in the Cayman Islands so as to avoid paying tax on it? Do a little research on how many terrorist organizations are funded by accounts in the Cayman Islands. So you boy Mittens does nothing for a living but collect dividend checks, dumps a bunch of that money into overseas accounts so he doesn't have to pay tax on it, who knows what that money is used for or how much he's stashing overseas because he won't reveal any of that, and he pays a whopping 15% capital gains or income tax or whatever you want to call it. He pays more to his church than he does in tax. Yeah, real American hero, that one.
Ken James October 11, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Pauline, not only are you mean, but you are misinformed as well. A really fun combo! Yes, Romney's income is primarily from dividends. That is from money which he earned originally as income, paid income tax on, then invested it in companies that are willing to pay a dividend. That is the same retirement plan that virtually every American strives to accomplish. As for the Cayman Islands... where in the world did you get the idea that interest on funds on deposit in a Cayman bank was exempt from taxes? Does your source have the letters MSNBC in the title? Yes, Romney has been successful in business and in his personal finances. He could easily retire right now and merely "walk to the mailbox" for his paycheck and never have to put up with the likes of you. But instead he has chosen to dedicate a significant part of his life to helping pull this country back from the brink of financial disaster. As for paying more to his church than he does in tax; that's yet another example of his character. Nobody, except some MSNBC zealots, has accused him of underpaying his income tax. He pays all that he MUST pay in tax, then he voluntarily pays an additional substantial amount to his church and other private charitable causes. Somehow you find evil in these acts... incredible!
Pauline October 11, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Yawn. Yeah, Mitt, pull us back from the brink of financial disaster...a financial disaster that was created by REPUBLICAN George W. Bush. Funny how two unfunded wars and tax cuts to millionaires can send the country into a financial tailspin.
Ken James October 11, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Pauline -- Regardless of how you fee we got in the financial trouble, it is irrefutable that our current president has no idea how to bolster the economy. The business community has spoken loudly and clearly that his policies will NOT return us to prosperity. That missing prosperity is what is required to propel us out of the rut. You can dwell on your distorted view of the past, but you seem to want to go back 10 years... while ignoring the last 4. With Obama, we already know what the next 4 years will look like; high unemployment and tepid growth and huge deficits. If we were to sustain another terrorist attack as we did in 2001, are you confident that we are in a position to recover as well as we did then?
Lance K. Regan October 15, 2012 at 04:44 AM
This could get serious! First, Romoney cuts the subsidies to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Not enough, we're still broke! What's next, cut the subsidies to Corporate Oil, Corporate Agriculture, Corporate Banks, Corporate Insurance, Corporate Pharma, etc.? How will the 1% survive this slashing attack? This man is too dangerous!
dexterjibs October 15, 2012 at 09:31 PM
I was thinking cuts to big green energy boondoggles. You know, the billions of tax payer dollars that go to "green energy" companies that go out of business a short time later cuz green energy is useless. ANd green energy companies overseas receive tax payer funded subsidies. So, tax payer monies are used to export jobs overseas. I thinbk Obama is the real dangerous person in this race.
dexterjibs October 15, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Geez Jeff, I think it is in the hundreds of millions. But he is earning that money for a noble cause. And, he did donate hundreds of dollars to charity one year when he was VP. I guess hypocrisy is a characteristic of liberals.
sarahbuckley October 25, 2012 at 08:30 PM
"Today is brought to you by the letter, "O" and the number 16 trillion...."

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