Thursday, October 4, 2012

Big Bird Isn't Going Anywhere -- and Neither is the Deficit

I did not directly watch the presidential debate last night, though I kinda watched it vicariously through my friends on Facebook.

Apparently, Mitt Romney said he was going to cut the subsidy from the US Government to the Public Broadcasting System:

Reaction, of course, was swift:

Whew. Nobody’s going to kill Big Bird.

What Sherrie Rollins-Westin says is correct: Sesame Workshop gets little of what the government earmarks for public broadcasting. And there’s little enough of that as it is. In 2010, for example, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting got $422 million from the government, of which $71 million went directly to PBS. More details here.

Sesame Workshop says on its own financials that they received “only” 7.96 million in “government grants” in 2011 – just enough to pay the $6.2 million and 860,000 in salaries and other compensation to Sesame Workshop’s top five employees (including Rollins-Westin, who according to SW financials earned $346,224 in salary and $68,643 in other compensation in 2011. (Note: I am not a financial expert. I may have misinterpreted their financial statements, which are typical financial documents by which I mean they are written in nonsense and gobbledygook. Nevertheless.)

Nobody’s going to kill Big Bird. But maybe some fat cats might feel the pinch, eh?

So Romney’s proposed axing of CPB government funding as a deficit reduction tool is symbolic at best.  And Democrats who look at Romney’s proposal and scream about public television going away had really better look into the financials of the whole situation, since the money coming from the feds into the CPB is a paltry amount and could be made up through other resources, including – dare I say it – reducing the salaries of the one-percenters working in the public broadcasting domain.

When politicians start playing with real money, Amigo money, then I’ll get more excited listening to their ideas.Neither party -- nor the American people -- have the stomach to do the belt-tightening necessary to get this nation out of debt. Going after PBS won't help, and making a rallying cry over the paltry amount of money PBS gets from the feds won't help either.

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