Asked in the October 3 debate what he would do to address the federal budget deficit, Mitt Romney named two specific areas that he would cut: He would repeal Obamacare–which according to the Congressional Budget Office would actually increase the 10-year deficit by $109 billion–and eliminate funding for PBS, which, along with other forms of public media funded through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, gets $445 million from the federal government annually–approximately 0.012 percent of the federal budget.
Here’s Romney addressing moderator Jim Lehrer:
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 keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.
I think I speak for everyone when I say that Big Bird would be a much bigger loss than Jim Lehrer. But it’s a disturbing spectacle when a journalist moderating a debate between two politicians is reminded by one of them that he has the power to cut off the journalist’s funding. Politicians should not be able to pull the plug on the public’s media–PBS needs a dedicated trust fund that can’t be used as a political prop by candidates.