Census Bureau Information Is Valuable, So Why Are House Republicans Going After It?
THE US Census Bureau has a 220-year record of not abusing the public trust. So why go after the agency now, as the recent House appropriations bill does?
The bill, which passed the Republican-controlled House in May, strikes the Census Bureau in two ways. It provides only $625 million for “periodic censuses and programs,” such as the 2012 Economic Census. That’s $86 million less than the White House requested and $64 million less than the Census Bureau had available for such programs last year. More problematically, the bill prohibits the use of any of the money to conduct the American Community Survey, or ACS.
This survey replaced the census long form, which began in 1940 and made its swan song in 2000. The long form was mailed to about 1 in 6 households, asking the household’s “primary” resident 53 questions, and it seemed to burden too many Americans. So the Census Bureau replaced it with the ACS, which was mailed to 1 in 40 households annually, asking 48 questions of each primary household resident.
The information it provides is invaluable, and not just to researchers; voters need knowledge to choose their government. Our legislative leaders — including Scott Brown, whose support could prove important — should strongly defend the census.