Republican Fear Mongering On the Census

After seeing ethical violations and power grabs become business as usual under Republican rule, it is hard to take it seriously when the Republicans try to take the high moral ground in attacks against Democrats. So far we are finding that the Republican claims just don’t hold up, as I noted recently regarding medical information technology and the scare stories being spread about Cass Sunstein. It doesn’t look like Republican scare tactics regarding the census are holding up either. This story has been floated for a while, and now Judd Gregg latched onto it when withdrawing his nomination to be Commerce secretary.

The Federal Eye clarifies the matter:

In a letter to President Obama earlier this week, House Republicans urged him to reconsider his plan, calling it an “unprecedented politicization of the Census” that would “open the door to massive waste and abuse in the expenditure of taxpayer funds, billions of which are distributed on the basis of Census data.”

“There is no legitimate historical precedent for placing the nonpartisan, apolitical Census Bureau under the control of political operatives on the White House staff,” the letter said.

But Kenneth Prewitt, who served as Census director from 1998 to 2001, said he worked with White House staff during the 2000 Census on budgeting, advertising and outreach efforts. In an e-mail, Prewitt said he never met with anyone “more senior than a deputy chief of staff, except once when I met with the entire cabinet on how each member could assist in the large outreach effort then underway.”

Other former Census directors agreed that coordination with the White House on budgeting and outreach was appropriate while data collection and analysis should be kept separate.

As for potential political interference, “It’s virtually impossible to do something wrong without someone finding out about it,” said Vincent P. Barabba, who ran the 1980 Census. “It’s about as transparent an agency that exists.”

Barbara Everitt Bryant, who served as director during the 1990 Census, said: “I would have liked a little of the bully pulpit help, because one of the big things is just to get everyone to answer the questionnaire. The president would have a lot more clout on that than anything we could have done at the Census bureau.”

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    Hectic Bloggers 2009 says:

    I am sure the president is has a very hectic schedule today.  I hope that he will overcome this challenge.

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