There’s a good chance that if you don’t personally count yourself among those whose childhoods owed much to Cookie Monster, Reading Rainbow, and Mr. Rogers, you know someone who would. Along with learning to count to ten in Spanish before I could reliably do so in English, the words “Corporation for Public Broadcasting” were repeated in my small world daily. They preceded every episode of Sesame Street, making sure the tykes tuning in knew from whence their puppet pals came.
In the wake of the Big Bird ads that Obama is running, it seems an appropriate time to discuss the federal funding directed at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the umbrella organization that funnels cash to PBS and NPR, among other things. This was a surprisingly difficult thing to dig up. Senator Jim DeMint and Congressman Doug Lamborn filed legislation to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting earlier this year and DeMint has been calling for these cuts for some time now. In May, DeMint and Lamborn said that PBS receives only 15% of its revenue from federal dollars through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. That’s a shockingly small amount considering the clamor from the Obama campaign and certain celebrity-leftists, all looking for any kind of foothold after the President’s performance at last week’s debate.
According to NPR (ironically), in 2009, Sesame Street Workshop president and CEO Gary Knell earned $746,144 in salary and benefits. He’s since moved on to NPR itself,
Sesame Street, and by extension Big Bird and his cohorts, are in no danger whatsoever. According to the Sesame Workshop’s financial statement from 2011 (thanks, Senator DeMint), the company was worth $211 million in net assets; they made $46.9 million from June 2010-June 2011 in just licensing fees! From 2003-2006, the company made $211 million off toy and product sales. I believe it, too, when I walk the aisles of baby-friendly toys at popular stores and see row upon row of talking Elmo dolls. Honestly, I think Big Bird is simply in greater danger from his smaller, red, high-pitched pal than anyone running for public office – that’s some serious marketing Elmo has on his side.
When we talk about the need to cut spending, we have to remember, everything has to be on the table. There cannot be sacred cows (even singing puppet cows). In addition to that, we have to be honest about what the cuts will do. Federal funding cuts to the Corporation of Public Broadcasting will not kill off Big Bird or his friends, and American children will still get their daily Elmo fix. But what will materially damage the future of those children is a government that refuses to stop spending, refuses to stop tax hikes, and refuses to take these things seriously.