As Karoli explained this week, Republicans going after the funding for things like PBS, and "Planned Parenthood, NOAA, EPA, NPR, medical research, the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change, the OAS, and of course, Obamacare" is nothing new, but that didn't stop Romney adviser Ed Gillespie from pretending that Romney wasn't putting a target on Big Bird and PBS during the first presidential debate.
Gillespie admits that the amount of money is a pittance when it comes to what's actually adding to our deficit, but hey, we've got to start somewhere. Everyone knows they hate PBS for ideological reasons and that they aren't serious about deficit reduction unless it's an excuse to destroy every social safety that exists, or as in this case, to destroy an institution they hate because they disagree with their philosophy.
I'm not sure what else you'd call gutting the funding to PBS other than "targeting" when there's no other logical reason for going after them and when you can simultaneously repeat over and over again that raising taxes on the rich is a waste of time because you won't collect enough revenue to put a meaningful dent the deficit. If this was supposed to be some kind of a "joke" then maybe Romney needs to tell that to his friends in the House, because they're taking actual votes to cut the funding and not just talking about it.
And Gillespie's remarks about Big Bird being "commercially successful" are pretty callous when the people who rely on that type of programming are the ones who can't afford to be making donations to PBS, and may very well not be able to afford cable.
Transcript below the fold.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me just pin you down on the fallout. If it does turn out that the deductions do not make up for the cost of the tax cuts, does Governor Romney say he will scale back the tax cuts?
GILLESPIE: What he has said is it's going to be -- he's not going to increase the deficit in bringing down the rates and broadening the base...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So he will scale back the tax cuts?
GILLESPIE: We saw that done, by the way, as you know when Tip O'Neill was speaker of the house and Ronald Reagan was president of the United States and they worked together on a very important and significant tax reform. We believe that it's time for that again and that you can do that working across the aisle. Obviously Governor Romney, if he becomes president, would hope to have Republican majorities in the House and the Senate, but you would have to work across the aisle and we believe it can be done and there are six studies that show that you can.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the promise then that takes precedence, because I do want to move on, is the one about not increasing the deficit. You also heard Robert Gibbs there talk about Big Bird and the targeting of Big Bird by Governor Romney.
You know, coming out of that, PBS cited polls showing that it's the most trusted public institution and it only takes about 0.01 percent of the federal budget. You now seeing Big Bird show up at Mitt Romney rallies. Was it a mistake to target him?
GILLESPIE: George, it wasn't a targeting, it was just pointing to one example. As you know Governor Romney would move us toward a balanced budget with a 5 percent cut in non-security discretionary spending and he would eliminate a number of programs and consolidate a number of others. I think with Jim Lehrer there from PBS he made the point in a joking reference. But it's an important point. Look, if you have to borrow money from China to pay for these programs is it worth it? That's the test that should be applied if we're going to impose this debt on future generations.
And Big Bird, I can tell you, as the father of three children, grown now, but any father who has gone to a toy store knows that Big Bird is a pretty commercially successful entity. And whether or not we should be subsidizing it and you can cite, oh it's not that big a percentage of the budget, that's true, but every penny that you look and raise as a potential cut seems to be sacred with this administration and you can't cut it. And they demagogue it.
And I think the American people understand this is a big election and a big choice.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk...
GILLESPIE: And have to make some tough decisions. And you have to find some things where it's not worth borrowing money and imposing debt on future generations. Big Bird would be pretty successful, I suspect, without a government federal subsidy and all that debt.