WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS Washington) – If ‘M’ is for ‘Mitt’ and ‘R’ is for ‘Romney,’ then Big Bird and his Sesame Street friends at PBS may need to find new ways to stay on the air.
Mitt Romney indicated during a Wednesday campaign stop in Iowa that he would cut spending on public television, saying that PBS needed to be supported by advertisements and private donations.
“We’re not going to kill Big Bird,” Romney said at his campaign stop in Clinton, Iowa.
He later added: “Big Bird is going to have advertisements, all right? And we’re going to have endowments for the arts and humanities, but they’re going to be paid for by private charity, not by taxpayers.”
The focus on the federal funding of public broadcasting comes as the former Massachusetts governor continues to tout his financial plan in the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses, promising to slash up to $500 billion a year from the budget by the end of his first term as president. Romney said Wednesday that entities such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Public Broadcasting Corporation would have to look at private funding options if Romney was to become president.
This isn’t the first time this year that a Republican has gone after the federal funding for public television. Earlier this year, a group of Republican senators pushed for legislation that would have cut all federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the parent company for PBS and NPR.
But whether eliminating federal funding for public broadcasting would be an effective measure remains uncertain. The Congressional Budget Office indicated earlier this year that cutting off NPR’s $5 million-a-year take in federal funding would have no effect on cutting the fiscal budget.
Messages left by CBS Washington to PBS and the Romney campaign were not immediately returned.