Mitt Romney has stated publicly that he likes being able to fire people. But Big Bird? Yes Big Bird was put on notice, as was the debate moderator, Jim Lehrer of PBS and the entire PBS network.
Debate moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS asked each candidate to describe the difference between his plan to attack the deficit and his opponent’s.
“I’m glad you raised that,” Romney said. “I think it’s frankly not moral for my generation to keep spending massively more than we take in, knowing that those burdens are going to be passed on to the next generation. They’re going to be paying the interest and the principal all their lives, and the amount of debt we’re adding -- at a trillion a year -- is simply not moral.”
Cutting the deficit, said Romney, can be done by cutting taxes, cutting spending and growing the economy. And finally, after being accused continually of failing to give specifics about things like which loopholes he would close in the tax code to offset the tax reductions he’d like to make, Romney spelled out some cuts he’d enforce. “Obamacare is on the list,” Romney said. “I apologize, Mr. President. I used that term with all respect.”
If Romney was trying to throw Obama onto the defensive, it didn’t work. “I like it,” the president interjected.
“OK, good. So I get rid of that.”
Then, looking at moderator Lehrer, Romney said, “I’m sorry, Jim, I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS…. I like PBS, I love Big Bird -- I actually like, you too -- but I am not going to keep spending money on things [we have] to borrow money from China to pay for.”
Romney vowed to return the control of some federal government programs to states, though he didn’t specify which programs, and reduce the number of government agencies and departments, and the number of federal employees, though he hastened to add that would be through attrition.
And finally, he slapped at the president for promising to reduce the deficit and instead presiding over a massive increase.
“The president said he’d cut the deficit in half,” Romney said. “Unfortunately, he doubled it -- trillion-dollar deficits for the last four years. The president has put in place almost as much debt held by the public as all presidents combined.”
Whoa...Mitt Romney needs to spend a little more time with his budget reports. It seems that Romney not only likes to fire people, he seemed to really enjoy tossing out bogus "facts." The statement above on the deficit and public held debt? Romney’s claim is close to true, though he’s using a different debt measure than the one his party used at his nominating convention. On the day Obama took office, the total public debt was $10.6 trillion, according to the Treasury Department’s website. Today, it’s $16.2 trillion. That $5.6 trillion increase is a bit more than half of the debt incurred by the chief executives who preceded Obama in the White House. Looking only at the debt held by the public, the measure quoted by Romney, Obama has added about $5 trillion while the presidents who came before him ran up a $6.3 trillion tab.
Of course, a truly honest debate over the deficit and debt reduction can't be had without mention of the pattern of obstructionism on the part of the Republican congress, largely influenced by Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan:
Mr. Ryan’s enormous influence was apparent last summer when Representative Eric Cantor, the second most powerful House Republican, told Mr. Obama during negotiations over an attempted bipartisan “grand bargain” that Mr. Ryan disliked its policy and was concerned that a deal would pave the way for Mr. Obama’s easy re-election, according to a Democrat and a Republican who were briefed on the conversation.
When President Obama pointed out that Ryan’s budget plan offers a “deeply pessimistic” vision for America that would cut crucial investments in the middle class and jeopardize health care for seniors, Ryan took the criticism personally and said it “definitely damage[d]” the chances that he’d accept a bipartisan grand bargain on debt reduction.
And back to Big Bird, someone in the Twitterverse responded to Romney's threat to terminate the beloved Sesame Street Character by creating a @FiredBigBird account, which, as of this writing had almost 23,000 followers.
Facebook users chimed in too, with someone creating a page called "Big Bird for President."
Portland, Ore., resident Sam Chapman responded to the buzz by creating an indiegogo.com campaign to "Save Big Bird." All funds from the campaign go to PBS, according to the indiegogo site. "Let's show PBS some love," the webpage read.