Just like James Bond, Smokey Bear lives to die another day. The furry Forest Service mascot--famous for instructing generations of schoolchildren that only they could prevent forest fires--took a frightening turn on House Republicans’ chopping block.
The slash to the Forest Service’s conservation-education budget was proposed under House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s YouCut program, in which the public can vote each week in favor of various budget-trimming plans.
But Smokey and his pal, Woodsy the Owl, managed to duck the axe.
Instead of voting to nix the conservation-minded animals, the public chose a rival-budget cutting proposal that would eliminate payments to states that increase the number of food-stamp beneficiaries.
Of course, the selection might have more to do with a desire to conserve federal spending than it did sentimentality over Smokey. Slashing the bear’s budget would only save taxpayers $50 million over 10 years, while the food-stamp trims are worth $180 million over 10 years.
As Cantor spokeswoman Laena Fallon tells us, “Even Smokey the Bear knows you can prevent government waste.”
Whatever the reason he was spared, Smokey fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Adorable woodland creatures: 1. Hungry poor people: 0.