Big Bird vs. Budget Cuts That Matter

Bronson Stocking /

America is headed toward a fiscal cliff, the U.S. military is being gutted by budget cuts, and the President has been focused on…Big Bird.

After Governor Mitt Romney mentioned in the first presidential debate that he liked Big Bird, but might want to make cuts to taxpayer funding of PBS, President Obama’s camp seized on the idea.

In a speech in Madison, Wisconsin, the President stated: “I just want to make sure I got this straight. He’ll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he’s going to crack down on Sesame Street. Thank goodness somebody is finally cracking down on Big Bird.”

Cuts to the military scheduled to go into effect on January 2, 2012, are 1,000 times greater than the total federal share of PBS. The President and Congress should be acting right now to stop this budget sequestration.

The President has promised to veto any legislation designed to keep the sequestration from taking effect, unless that legislation also adopts elements of his already proposed and unanimously rejected budget, which included tax hikes. With a recessed Congress and a recalcitrant President, it is not yet certain whether there is enough time to stop the devastating defense cuts from taking effect. We do know, however, that there is not enough time to play politics when it comes to our men and women in uniform.

In the meantime, the impending sequestration is already having negative effects on both the economy and the military. Defense contractors have already begun laying off workers, jeopardizing military preparedness, and the U.S. Navy is currently working toward reducing the number of its ships from 285 to 235 over the next 10 years.

Unlike Big Bird, the U.S. military does not have other sources of revenue besides the government. The military cannot make up $500 billion by putting on a telethon or selling action figures. Considering the consequences and the available options, it is unbelievable that cuts to Big Bird could be elevated to higher importance than cuts to our military.