Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Romney’s plan to kill Big Bird. OK, yes, that’s inflammatory language for what Romney wants to do, which is remove federal funding for PBS.
But that’s not going to help that much. In fact, it won’t matter at all. It’s roughly the equivalent of someone who is $30,000 in debt and saying they are going to fix it by not going to the movies anymore.
So let’s look at it. The federal government provides PBS with $445 million dollars. The federal deficit is $14.8 trillion dollars (counting social security and welfare) or $10.1 trillion dollars (publicly held debt only). Of course, the $5 trillion that Romney was talking about is the amount of debt held by foreign investors.
$5,000,000,000,000 – foreign debt
______$455,000,000 – appropriation to PBS
Basically, Romney would need to find 11,000 such programs to cut to reduce the national deficit by his $5 trillion amount. Because that’s the only way to reduce the deficit in a revenue neutral way. Eleven thousand! Are there even 11,000 programs like this? And what would this do to the jobs situation. Even if only 20-30% of that money is jobs, that’s about 1800 jobs making $60k a year. Does anyone know what a cameraman and PBS secretary make?
Now, if the US just didn’t buy an F-22 raptor (that doesn’t work anyway), that’s $150 million dollars (PDF). So, cutting out a wing of 12 Raptors means PBS can be funded for 4 years… not including interest.
What about other government agencies?
I looked at a agency near and dear to my heart, NOAA. When I did this research, I didn’t know what all the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOAA is the National Weather Service. NOAA is the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service. Everything from climate research (which is why the GOP wants to cut it) to hurricane forecasting.
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service is responsible for all management, conservation and protection of living marine resources within the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone (water three to 200 mile offshore).
The National Ocean Service (NOS) translates science, tools, and services into action, to address threats to coastal areas such as climate change, population growth, port congestion, and contaminants in the environment, all working towards healthy coasts and healthy economies.
The cost for all this? $5.5 billion dollars. Completely eliminating NOAA would reduce the $5 trillion deficit by 0.1%. Again, we would need about 1,000 agencies like this completely cut to match Romney’s plan. And again, think about all the jobs this would eliminate, not to mention the danger that this agency protects us from. I used to live in a hurricane zone and just hurricane watches save many lives.
So, it seems like there’s no way just eliminating programs can meet even half the actual national debt. What does that mean? Revenue must increase. Which means taxes must increase. Of course, cutting all those programs results in massive job losses, which reduces revenue as well.