Censusgate ’09

By
Friday, February 13, 2009 at 9:35 am

Byron York had been working the sleepy “Census controversy” beat yesterday, so it makes sense for his story today to focus on how Republicans were fretting about the issue before Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) withdrew his nomination for commerce secretary.

“I think he had buyer’s remorse,” one GOP senator told me.  “After he looked into it more, he said, ‘Whoa, this was a mistake.’”

“He’s been getting Republicans walking up to him saying, ‘Are you going to let the White House circumvent you, are you going to let them do this to you?’” one GOP aide who is aware of those conversations told me Thursday night.  “This was a natural conflict that was going to arise, and on a personal level, politics aside, people were saying ‘Hey, are you sure you want to do this?’”

York concludes that “the Census issue is likely to intensify” post-Gregg, which is a leap of faith: the White House was only considering shaking up the Census after the Congressional Black Caucus (and other Democrats) balked at the idea of Republican Gregg, who’d opposed statistical “sampling” reforms (which could count more minorities), running the show.

Right now Republicans can do what they had been doing and put heat on the White House not to devolve the management of the Census to the White House. They can bring it up in hearings; they can introduce a bill that the Democrats will almost surely table. But their leverage is gone. Assuming the White House doesn’t choose another Republican to run Commerce — and given the way everyone not named “Robert Gates” or “Ray LaHood” has acted, that’s a strong possibility — the GOP has lost the chance to have a high-level advocate against Census sampling in the administration. If the next commerce secretary agrees with the White House and CBC on sampling, then there will be sampling, no matter what happens to the actual management of the Census.

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Comments

8 Comments

ajm8127
Comment posted February 13, 2009 @ 7:57 am

Maybe I'm confused, but why is this such a big deal. Is it just a power struggle or what?


Matt S
Comment posted February 13, 2009 @ 6:04 pm

The census is known to be inaccurate: it undercounts the poor and those out of the system. This becomes partisan because those not counted tend to be Democratic constituencies. Counting them would give more Democratic congressional districts and more money to those areas. There are two ways to solve this undercount. Either you spend lots of money to count more people or you spend far less and do statistical analysis. All of the evidence tells us that the statistical work will produce a better (more accurate) number.


ajm8127
Comment posted February 13, 2009 @ 10:50 pm

I see. Thanks for the explanation.


Matt S
Comment posted February 14, 2009 @ 2:04 am

The census is known to be inaccurate: it undercounts the poor and those out of the system. This becomes partisan because those not counted tend to be Democratic constituencies. Counting them would give more Democratic congressional districts and more money to those areas. There are two ways to solve this undercount. Either you spend lots of money to count more people or you spend far less and do statistical analysis. All of the evidence tells us that the statistical work will produce a better (more accurate) number.


ajm8127
Comment posted February 14, 2009 @ 6:50 am

I see. Thanks for the explanation.


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