Those of us in New Hampshire--at least some of us--know that Mitt Romney was not the first one to broach defunding of Big Bird (a proxy for the subsidy to public television).
I am proud to say that I successfully led the effort to defund Channel 11 last year. During the debate, someone mentioned (I think it was Grant Bosse) exactly what Mitt Romney did during Wednesday's debate, that although he personally likes Big Bird, a subsidy for public television is not a proper use of taxpayer money.
Romney phrased it very well indeed, noting that he would eliminate all funding for programs not vital enough to force us to borrow money from China to fund them.
From the hysterical reaction from Barack Obama (a day late and a dollar short to be sure) and his fellow travelers on the loony left, you would have thought Romney was suggesting we stop defending the country or providing relief for the most vulnerable in our society.
Public television is hardly vulnerable. In New Hampshire until last year, UNH was taking two to four million dollars of state aid, money which was supposed to be going for higher education, and giving it to Channel 11.
My legislation to prevent that funding failed (solons didn't want to handcuff how UNH spent its grant), but the message was received and when UNH was cut $50 million, it stopped funding Channel 11 on its own.
Guess what? Channel 11 survived just as Public Broadcasting would survive if Big Bird's taxpayer seed went away.
From what I heard yesterday (yes, probably on Fox), Big Bird's Daddy, the Children's Television Workshop, has a $400 million profit...not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm all for free enterprise and companies making a profit, but not at the expense of taxpayers.
I'm not as much a fan of Big Bird of that funny and smart little monkey, but I'm sure Public Television would find a way to keep bringing us Curious George if tax money went away.
It's true, this is only a drop in a very large bucket of federal spending, but Mitt Romney has it exactly right. This funding is symbolic of what we can no longer afford to do...lest we want to keep borrowing from China and bankrupting our children's children.
I suppose it could be argued that there was a time when federal funds were needed for public television. When I was growing up back in the 50s in the Burlington, Vermont area, we received only one station clearly (WCAX-TV). If we were lucky and wiggled the rabbit ears just right (yes, rabbit ears were these wire thingies which sat atop televisions to pull in more distrant signals in the days before dish and cable), we could haul in two New York stations (WPTZ and WRGB...with a children's show sponsored by Freddie Freihopper..."Who wants to squibble/") and WMTW from atop Mt. Washington.
Television options were limited back then, but that is no longer the case when the average viewer can pull in thousands of stations including those which specialize in much of what public television does. There are several channels--way too many in fact, but that's the glory of competition-- devoted to just history or science or animals, not to mention food preparation or children. You name it, you can find it on cable or the dish, without taxpayer money funding it.
Private enterprise can handle this just fine. Mitt Romney was exactly right.
Now if we could only get him to come to New Hampshire and convinced Republicans it's time for counties to stop funding the cooperative extension.
But that's another story...for another day.