Obama: ‘We Didn’t Know Big Bird Was Driving the Federal Deficit’

By Fred Lucas | October 4, 2012 | 2:01 PM EDT

President Barack Obama at the presidential debate at the University of Denver on Oct. 3, 2012. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – One day after the presidential debate in Denver, President Barack Obama criticized his Republican challenger Mitt Romney for targeting the tax dollars that go to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, mocking how Sesame Street’s “Big Bird” could be adding to the deficit.

“Thank goodness somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird,” Obama said at the Denver rally. “It’s about time. We didn’t know that Big Bird was driving the federal deficit. But that’s what we heard last night. How about that?”

Someone from the audience shouted, “Elmo.”

Obama said, “Elmo, too?”

The federal government appropriates $445 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which includes the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR). That’s on top of the private corporate sponsorship for the non-profit entity.

During the debate,  Romney said,  “I love Big Bird.” However, he explained the test he would look at before approving any funding for public television.

“Is the program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?” Romney said.

He went on to say to moderator Jim Lehrer, a retired PBS journalist, “I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.”