Democrats, meanwhile, have voiced increasing concern over the state of Medicaid, the federal-state health-insurance program for the poor that faces cuts as well.
Weighing in at $21 billion in Florida where more than half the program is paid through federal funds Medicaid is a mainstay for many hospitals, nursing homes, doctors and clinics. And whenever the GOP-controlled state Legislature tries to cut Medicaid benefits, swarms of lobbyists (some of whom are Romney supporters, incidentally) work to stop it. Often children, doctors and developmentally disabled people are called in to testify against the cuts.
The same thing is happening in Washington right now with every major lobby trying to find some way to get a do-nothing Congress to do nothing when it comes to its one non-do-nothing plan to cut government.
Right after Romney made his remarks about Big Bird, the Huffington Post carried a story about a little girl from Alabama who hand-wrote him a letter, saying find something else to cut. Dont hurt little kids.
As with many lobbying efforts that raise doom-and-gloom over government cuts, the talk of Big Birds death is probably premature.
Sesame Street is a marketing juggernaut that receives little government money and will be around, said its executives. Theyre no doubt happy with the publicity. A Big Bird Twitter handle started, well, tweeting. And Saturday Night Live featured a Big Bird on its newscast.
The presidential debate also gives the public a chance to imagine the candidates as Muppets. With his upright posture and fear of the moral hazards of debt, Romney is like Sam the Eagle. The at-times babbling president sounded more like the incomprehensible Swedish Chef.
Romneys remarks werent limited to PBS although it was the one concrete example of a cut he wanted to make.
But Romney wasnt specific at all about his tax plan and how it wouldnt punch a bigger hole in the deficit. He has refused to detail the math or the specifics. Similarly, Obama has yet to show how his own long-term deficit-reduction plan is based on real math instead of budget gimmickry.
Obama, who struggled against Romney in the debate, came up with a sharp response the next day after the president lost the debate.
Thank goodness somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird. Its about time, Obama joked Thursday. We didnt know that Big Bird was driving the federal deficit. But thats what we heard last night. How about that? Elmo, too?
Romney said during the debate that he wanted to combine some agencies and turn the management of some programs back to the states.
What things would I cut from spending? he asked. Obamacares on my list.
Obamacare, which raises a passel of taxes, also cuts future Medicare costs by about $716 billion over a decade, which would extend the life of the program. So Obamacare saves money. But it spends it, too, specifically by increasing Medicaid eligibility.
Only in Washington can that happen.
So forget about Big Bird.
We might need Count von Count on Capitol Hill, if not the White House.