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Posted at 02:00 PM ET, 12/02/2011

Smokey Bear up in smoke? House GOP takes aim

Is nothing sacred? We get that House Republicans are dead serious in their efforts to trim federal spending and cut the national debt, but we had no idea how far they were willing to go...until now.

They may be proposing giving the axe to none other than the beloved icons Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl. Yes, that’s Smokey of “only you can prevent forest fires” fame and Woodsy, who charmingly warns schoolchildren to “give a hoot, don’t pollute.”

Why, Smokey and Woodsy are national treasures! There’s even a law protecting Smokey’s integrity and an adorable brochure dedicated to making sure that he’s portrayed properly.

The cuddly creatures are among the children’s education programs run by the Forest Service, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor put such programs on the chopping block in the latest installment of his “YouCut” contest in which he invites the public to identify federal spending to whack in the name of budget-balancing.

The YouCut proposal doesn’t specifically name the friendly woodland creatures, though it targets the Forest Service’s “environmental literacy” and “conservation education” programs, saying that it’s wrong for taxpayer dollars to go to “generate issue-oriented advocacy.”

Nixing those programs would save $50 million over 10 years, the Web site says.

A Forest Service spokesman defended the value of the programs, saying they “introduce some 25 million American children every year to the wonders of nature, helping create interest in their environment and instilling a lifelong relationship with it.”

By  |  02:00 PM ET, 12/02/2011

 
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