President Donald Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney attacked Big Bird on Wednesday while defending a budget that would cut funding to PBS.
Mulvaney discussed the proposed cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) by claiming, “Big Bird makes more money than everybody in this room,” during testimony before the House Budget Committee.
He continued: “When I do go to that family in Grand Rapids and say, ‘Is this what you want your money to go to?’ I think they might tell me no. Maybe they can afford to do it without us.”
Mulvaney called PBS a “for-profit organization” and said “it does extraordinarily well.”
Trump made good on a long-time conservative goal in his first proposed budget, targeting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities for complete elimination.
Trump’s budget would zero out the $445 million budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a relatively small source of funding for programming and broadcast operations on public TV stations and NPR radio stations nationwide, per the Washington Post.
The budget would also eliminate the budgets for both national endowments, which stood at $148 million each in 2016, as well as $230 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which supports libraries and museums. Additional cuts would affect two tourist mainstays in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art.
Combined, the four arts organizations account for less than 0.02 percent of the U.S. government’s $3.9 trillion budget. Earlier this year when news of Trump’s proposed budget first broke, PBS quickly fired back.
“PBS and our nearly 350 member stations, along with our viewers, continue to remind Congress of our strong support among Republican and Democratic voters, in rural and urban areas across every region of the country,” PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger said in a statement.
“We have always had support from both parties in Congress, and will again make clear what the public receives in return for federal funding for public broadcasting,” he continued. “The cost of public broadcasting is small, only $1.35 per citizen per year, and the benefits are tangible: increasing school readiness for kids 2-8, support for teachers and homeschoolers, lifelong learning, public safety communications and civil discourse.”
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