Wednesday, June 15, 2005

And Now, Crossfire with Elmo and Cookie Monster

A House Appropriations panel approved a spending bill that would cut the budget for public television and radio nearly in half and eliminate a $23 million federal program that has provided money for producing children's shows, including "Sesame Street."

We're not sure why the Republicans hate PBS so much, but we think it has something to do with Bert and Ernie. We can just see discussions raging back and forth among the various GOP factions, like the rich old white men and the richer old white men. Are Bert and Ernie, a) gay; b) Democrats; c) College educated urban professionals; d) all of the above.

Republicans said the cuts were not aimed at punishing public broadcasting for being anti-American and a hotbed of liberal propaganda poisoning the minds of our youth with new age propaganda like global warming, but were the reality of preparing budgets at a time of growing deficits.

"Look, we have to pay for the war," said Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House. "And that means we all have to sacrifice, including Big Bird. OK, so maybe some of us don't have to sacrifice, but my understanding is birds can't vote."

The cuts in financing went beyond those requested by the White House and are likely to be approved next week by the full Appropriations Committee and then by the House. "I was thinking bleed it slowly to death," said president Bush at a recent prayer breakfast. "But they wanted to gut it outright, so I say bring it on."

"It is clear the GOP agenda is to control public broadcasting or to defund it," said Representative David R. Obey, the senior Democrat on the committee. "All this started when PBS refused to air All Things Considered with Ann Coulter."

The head of the Republican-controlled Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, said that the perception that the stations are not balanced could prompt the Republican-controlled Congress to reduce financing. "We say we want PBS to be fair and balanced like Fox news is," he told a group of religious broadcasters at a recent fundraiser.

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