Mitt’s Excuse for Killing Big Bird is Wrong

GroverFirst things first: I don’t like Big Bird. I never have. Nor am I fond of those metrosexual cohabitors Burt and Ernie. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t fight for Sesame Street. If only for the sake of Grover, we must protect Sesame Street.

Romney’s comment about Sesame Street roiled me, but not about ending funding for PBS. Let’s be clear: all conservatives want to end funding of this kind. If a TV show isn’t interrupted every 10 minutes so that corporations can sell stuff, what is the point? Am I right?!

But Romney said more than that. Here is the full quote:

I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird. Actually like you, too. But I’m not going to—I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.


As I’ve discussed before, We Are Our Own Investors. If our government debt is owned to any monolithic creature, it is the American People. China owns roughly 7.5% of our debt. Total foreign debt ownership is roughly a third—half what we Americans own. So this is a non-issue. What’s more, it is a fact that Mitt Romney surely knows; his statement is demagoguery plain and simple.

What’s more, the implication of this claim is that by China holding government debt, they control us. If they decide to get stop buying our debt it will cause our economy to collapse. China is—according to those who make this claim—propping up the value of the dollar. The exact opposite is the truth. As Dean Baker has pointed out, the reason China owns as much of our debt as they do is because they peg their currency artificially low compared to the dollar. Mitt Romney might have heard about this since he’s always talking about it with regards to manufacturing. Another aspect of this is that China can buy our bonds for less than they are worth.

That is why China owns 7.5% of our government debt. But regardless of this, 7.5% is not all or most or even a lot.

If Mitt Romney wants to kill Big Bird (and I wouldn’t complain), he needs to come up with a better reason than China.

Update (5 October 2012 2:28 pm)

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Mitt’s Excuse for Killing Big Bird is Wrong

  1. What’s your beef with Big Bird? ;-)

    I really like PBS and PBS World, and I’d be bummed if they were to be taken off the air, or worse, have their shows aired with commercials.

  2. @Mack – I’m glad you asked… I don’t know. There are cool characters on Sesame Street: Grover, Oscar, Kermit, The Count, Cookie Monster (at least before they castrated him). And there are uncool characters as I already stated. In terms of Big Bird, it is probably (1) he is big and (2) he is not a puppet. The problem with Ernie and Burt is that they are so much like Abbott and Costello. I like Costello and mostly Ernie, but Abbott and Burt really turn me off.

    I like PBS and NPR. I wish they didn’t try so hard to court the right, it destroys their credibility at the same time it buys them nothing: the right still hates them.

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