Wednesday, February 11, 2009

House Republicans Urge President Obama to Reverse Plans for White House Census Takeover

House Republican leaders today sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to reconsider an unprecedented plan by the White House to move control of the Census Bureau and the 2010 Census from the Commerce Department to political operatives on the White House staff. Politicization of the Census will “undermine the goal of a fair and accurate Census count” and “open the door to massive waste and abuse in the expenditure of taxpayer funds,” GOP leaders warned. An estimated $300 billion in federal funds are distributed annually on the basis of U.S. Census data, according to Census officials.

The letter was signed by Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and the entire House GOP elected leadership team, Oversight & Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Darrel Issa (R-CA), Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-TX), House Administration Ranking Member Dan Lungren (R-CA), Information Policy, Census, and National Archives Subcommittee Ranking Member Patrick McHenry (R-NC), and Census Task Force Chairman Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA).

“Placing the Census under the control of political operatives in the White House will inevitably corrupt the independence [of] critical Census functions, and could result in a dramatic increase in abuse and misallocation of taxpayer funds at a time when both parties should be working together to eliminate such waste,” House Republicans warned in the letter.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s own website, “Census data are used to distribute Congressional seats to states, to make decisions about what community services to provide, and to distribute $300 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year.”

NOTE: Former Census Bureau Director Bruce Chapman recently penned an op-ed in which he noted, “[T]he White House and its Congressional allies are wrong in asserting that the Census in the past has reported directly to the president through his staff. Directors of the Bureau often brief presidents and their staffs, but, as a former director (under President Reagan), I don’t know of any cases where the conduct of the Bureau was directly under White House supervision. That includes Clinton in 2000, Bush 41 in 1990 and Carter in 1980.”

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