The Big Bird Fluff-Up in the Denver Presidential Debate

word cloud from Denver Debate

As a Bird myself, I feel I’m at liberty to talk about Big Bird, who became the center of attention last night during the Presidential Debate in Denver. He was trending on Twitter all night and even this morning because of the fact that Mitt Romney said that PBS doesn’t pass the China test and would be defunded. This is the test by which Romney would measure whether a program is worth saving or not, by asking the question, “Is it worth borrowing money from China for?” Twitter got all in a tizzy when Romney said his answer was no, despite the fact that he likes Big Bird as much as the rest of us.

The result is the above word cloud shared by local Denver news station KUSA Channel 9 on its’ Facebook page. It shows what words were most commonly tweeted about during the debate. The debate about our economy which is currently in the tank. Our Federal debt is currently $16 Trillion.

$16 Trillion!

And this (Big Bird) is what America is worried about? Really? A puppet?

First of all, cutting funding DOES NOT EQUAL cancelling. Why people think Big Bird will actually be out of a job is beyond me. Only 12% of PBS’ budget comes from Federal Funding. And Sesame Street as a franchise, makes MILLIONS on products, toys, endorsements, movies…

There is no need to worry that Big Bird’s nest will not continue to be feathered.

If PBS fans are really that concerned about the 12% not being taken from taxpayers who may or may not even be watching PBS, so they can keep PBS relatively commercial-free (they do have advertisers even now), by all means, pony up another buck or two every year yourself. It’s that simple.

In this day and age when almost everyone has 100’s of channels to choose from, versus just four (three major networks + PBS) when the channel was started in the 1970’s, the model for public broadcasting is outdated. Why should taxpayers (some who don’t even watch the network) be asked to continue to fund it when it can survive on its’ own?

What would be so wrong with PBS having advertisers if it had to? We also live in the age of the DVR. I’m pretty sure our kids can survive having to fast-forward through the commercials like they already know how to do. But, can they survive the mountain of debt they will inherit from our senseless spending?

So what if Americans are only being asked for $.64 each to continue to fund PBS. Isn’t that money better spent elsewhere instead of adding to what we already owe China?

I am truly embarrassed by the reaction of the American people last night on the important topic of tightening our belts. Haven’t we all had the same conversation in our homes about what to cut first when we’re going through tough times? I bet in your house, just like mine, the first thing we look to cut is our television bill. Why should the Federal Government be any different?

It’s time we all start thinking about our children. And I don’t mean whether or not Elmo and Cookie Monster start having to do product placements. I mean the HUGE debt they will be saddled with if we don’t get our spending under control. And it all starts with that four-letter-word, CUTS.

I don’t want to have to explain to my kid when she’s all grown why she can’t get ahead because half of every dollar she earns goes to pay down the debt we passed on to her. But, she should be thankful, because at least we saved Sesame Street! And we did it all for her.


Read also what my friend, Rajean Blomquist had to say about Big Bird’s appearance in the debate last night. And asks, “How should you vote after watching the first Presidential debate?”



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  1. 1


    Wow! You share such an important perspective, the debt we are passing on through the generations. That’s a lot of cookies. Thanks for linking to my post! And I adore how you began. You ARE at liberty to discuss other birds! Fuff those feathers.

  2. 3

    Lisa says

    You make a great point about the deficit, Chris. I agree that Big Bird and the other Sesame Street characters are safe even without federal funding.

    We both agree that we shouldn’t be borrowing money from China (or any other country for that matter), but our differences stem from what we should be cutting to slash the deficit.

    Why not cut subsidies for oil companies who’ve been performing pretty well these days? Why is education any less important?

    What of borrowing money to finance war?

    Why more tax breaks at the expense of the middle and lower income citizens? If tax cuts created jobs, Bush’s job creation would have been in the private sector rather than in government sector where they were. If that was the case, the Republican Party would have made him their convention keynote speaker instead of running from him. Business’ chief goal is to create profits, not jobs. Consumers create jobs.

    I don’t think everything the Democratic Party does is grand, but I can’t help but think that Jesus woul be advocating for helping the least amongst us over giving even more to the wealthiest who already control well over three quarters of our nations wealth.

    • 4


      Are you saying cutting funding to PBS is cutting from our education budget, Lisa? Not sure I would agree with you there. While PBS has educational shows, they don’t fall under the Department of Education.

      I’m all for looking at cuts throughout government. I’m sure we could find waste and fraud in all of them.

      I believe in peace through strength, and to that end, we don’t finance war, we finance freedom.

      These are the facts on the Bush tax cuts: GDP for the previous quarter before Obama took office was 3.5%. The unemployment rate was 4.6%. George Bush’s economic policies SET A RECORD of 52 STRAIGHT MONTHS of JOB GROWTH.

      Even though it’s off topic, let’s address your question of WWJD in terms of redistribution of wealth. It comes up often these days. Jesus wasn’t a proponent of redistribution of wealth through government. He preached earning your own way (teach a man to fish…) and giving what God blessed you with to those who were less fortunate and could not earn on their own. No middle man involved.

      When you say we’re “giving” to the wealthy, what you really mean is that we’re allowing them to keep more of what they earned, no? To which I would answer with a quote from one of my favorite conservative thinkers, Thomas Sowell:

      “I have never understood why it’s ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you have earned, but it is not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.”

      • 5

        Lisa says

        I agreed that cutting funding for PBS wasn’t likely to put Big Bird out of work.

        I was referring to the repeated calls from conservatives to cut education funding. Why is that always on the chopping block? Agree that there is probably waste in most government programs as is the case in most corporations.

        Another conservative rallying point is to cut “entitlements”. Social Security is paid into and thus an earned benefit – not an entitlement. Why not include other entitlements such as subsidies for oil companies – why are we giving them tax dollars to drill more oil that is going to go into the global market? Drilling here doesn’t mean it will stay here for our exclusive use. They are making record profits and using a portion of our tax dollars to do it. Is that not corporate welfare?

        How strong can we be when we borrow money to finance war?

        The Bush Administration had a net loss of private sector jobs. His gains were in public sector jobs, thus he created government jobs.
        Additionally, Clinton left office with a surplus and Bush left with a deficit.

        And onto WWJD…let us not forgot the other lessons about greed wealth.

        Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
        Luke 3:14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely–be content with your pay.”
        Luke 9:3 He told them: “Take nothing for the journey–no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.
        Luke 16:14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.
        Acts 4:34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales.
        Acts 4:37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
        1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
        1 Timothy 3:3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
        1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
        2 Timothy 3:2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
        Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”[ 13:5 Deut. 31:6]
        1 Peter 5:2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;
        Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self¬indulgence.
        Mark 7:22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
        Luke 11:39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.

        We are “giving” our tax dollars to the wealthy in the form of subsidies and bailouts. They are privatizing their profits and socializing their debts. So, I’m really NOT saying they shouldn’t keep more of what they “earned”, with “earned being the key word. They don’t “earn” my tax dollars- it is a welfare benefit to them.

        • 6


          You’ve brought up a lot of points unrelated to the post, but I will try to answer them.

          On education, I’m only aware of states/cities that need to tighten their belts and whenever they try to reign in teacher’s salaries and benefits commiserate with the private sector (that pay them), all hell breaks loose, like it did recently in Chicago where they have some of the lowest test scores and graduation rates in the country. No one wants to cut money that actually goes to the kids.

          Corporations need to keep themselves lean to stay accountable to shareholders, unlike government. It is in their best interest to do so. Not the case with government who needs to spend their budget every year so they can continue receiving the same money or more the following year. There is no incentive in government to eliminate waste, so your comparison is weak at best.

          I don’t know anyone calling to eliminate social security. Fix it, yes. Nix it, no.

          Don’t agree that drilling stateside doesn’t benefit us. Yes, we sell globally, but we also benefit locally. As far as cutting subsidies, I can’t comment on how much should be cut because I admit I haven’t examined it closely enough. But, as I said, everything should be looked at across the board to pay down our debt.

          I can’t put a price on freedom, to answer your question about necessary wars.

          Did Clinton have to fund the war on terrorism and deal with anything close to 9/11? No, Clinton was fortunate to have a Republican congress, unlike Bush and the Dotcom boom.

          On WWJD, both Christians and Humanists agree on taking care of the poor, so not sure there why this point is continually brought up. The difference is: Christians believe WE are instructed by God to take care of the poor. Humanists believe the GOVERNMENT should take care of the poor.

          Corporations get subsidies and bailouts, not people. When you are talking about taking from the wealthy to give to the poor, you are taking from people, not corporations.

  3. 7


    Sesame Street sort of straddles the best of both worlds, doesn’t it? Its creators benefit from both the free market and also from the redistributed market.

    I do worry about borrowing so much from our children’s future. When the inevitable collapse does come (a sugar daddy government is not sustainable), I bet by then we’ll wish that we’d prioritized better. The loss of a publicly funded Sesame Street will seem like a handful of birdseed.
    Lori Lavender Luz recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Burning bush

  4. 9

    Lisa says

    Sorry, I only meant to copy/paste 3 verses, but obviously need to improve my copy/paste skills using my phone.

    I certainly will not be offended if you remove that post as it does take up a large portion of your page. 😉

    Thanks for the honest debate.

    • 10


      Wow! You typed all of that on your phone? Impressive! Thank you to, for the honest debate. Sorry I don’t have the time today to answer more fully. Off to a field trip at my daughter’s school!

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