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Cutting $400 million (or whatever the number is) from the PBS budget is hardly going to 'kill' Big Bird or the federal deficit. It is, however, an eight-foot-tall canary in the coal mine about the seriousness of addressing trillion-dollar deficits.

As an example, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently had its climate change-related research budget slashed by a fifth. There are not many people buying t-shirts to support climate research.

As entitlement payments grow they will consume more, and cuts will be required everywhere. Big Bird is indeed an eight-foot canary.

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