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Republicans See 'Red Flags' Over White House Census Interest

CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this post said that Trent Lott had appointed A. Mark Neuman chairman of the 2010 Census Advisory Committee. Lott, when he was the Senate majority leader in 1998, appointed Neuman to a separate U.S. Census Monitoring Board. Neuman was appointed to the Census Advisory Committee, which he currently chairs, by President Bush's Commerce secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, and by Bush's Census Bureau director, Louis Kincannon.

Original Post
Even if the Obama White House isn't politicizing the 2010 census, as Republicans allege, there's plenty of politics at play (as usual around this time) as the decennial head count approaches.

The White House's intentions to play an active role in the 2010 enumeration of Americans isn't sitting well with Republicans.

One of them who has a particularly unique role tells the Sleuth he sees potentially big problems with President Obama's plan to have Census officials report to White House aides.

"The White House is involved in things like ensuring that the budget request is there and that the president does a [public service announcement] to promote the Census,"
A. Mark Neuman, chairman of the 2010 Census Advisory Committee, says. "More than that raises real red flags."

When the White House first floated the idea a few weeks ago, Republicans panicked that Obama's senior aides - especially his notoriously partisan chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel - were trying to usurp full control of the census away from the Commerce Department and transfer it to the White House.

Amid the uproar, which led, in part, to Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) withdrawing his nomination to be Obama's Commerce secretary, the White House issued a clarification: the Census Bureau would remain at Commerce but White House officials would "work closely with the Census director."

But Republicans really don't want any White House involvement of any kind in next year's count.

As House Minority Leader John Boehner said at a recent news conference, "This unprecedented move by the president, I think, would undermine the goal of having a fair and accurate census count."

Neuman, who served on the executive staff of the Census Bureau during the 1990 census and was appointed chairman of the 2010 advisory committee by former senator Trent Lott of Mississippi former president George W. Bush's Commerce secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, points to Title 13 of the United States federal code, which clearly states the Census Bureau falls squarely under the purview of Commerce. "Federal law has a lot to say about authority of the secretary of Commerce over the Census," he says. "Congress delegated the authority to the secretary of Commerce."

The census is a political hot potato because, as Peter Baker points out in his piece in the New York Times, it determines how much federal funding state and local governments get based on population, and how many congressional seats each state gets, as well as how congressional districts are drawn.

The White House argues there is precedent for close White House interaction with the census director, a notion with which Kenneth Prewitt, who directed the 2000 census under President Clinton, agrees.

Prewitt, who is now a professor at Columbia University in New York, tells the Sleuth, "There's nothing uniquely different about the census director talking to the White House."

He says he routinely contacted the White House, as he did several other agencies - he even sat in on a Cabinet meeting - when he conducted the census under Clinton. Though he says, "I can't remember a single conversation I had with [Clinton White House chief of staff] John Podesta in the two years I was there."

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt has stated "White House senior management will work closely with the census director given the number of decisions that will need to reach the president's desk."

That sure seems to suggest that the new 2010 census director, who has yet to be named, will likely be having a conversation or two with Rahm Emanuel.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  February 20, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
 
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Comments

Please. Not news. The Republicans are in flag-raising mode. I'm surprised that they're not recommending Tom DeLay for Census director.

Posted by: half_smoke2000 | February 20, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

If the Repubs want to have a say in these sorts of things they oughta try and get some sort of power.

Until they do, they should just STFU already.

Posted by: RightDownTheMiddle | February 20, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure the Democrats and their press allies would have been OK with the Census Burean reporting to Karl Rove. NPR would be having the vapors. And I was cynically amused at the citation of the last Director's cooperation with another Democratic White House as giving credibility to this group of Chicago pols. As if, you know?

Posted by: MarkR1 | February 20, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

There is much gnashing of teeth among the Republicans these days, as they watch their hard earned gains of unfair advantage over the Democrats made over these last three decades rolled up before their eyes.

I recommend we all sit back and enjoy it. The only thing we have to fear right now is fear of a Republican comeback. And it will happen at some point, because they always come back. They've been coming back and coming back for more than two thousand years.

So enjoy the show while it lasts. Because the worm rarely turns, but it sure is nice to see when it does.

Posted by: Dolmance | February 20, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

This is ALL about redistricting! The declining popularity of the republican party suggests that their best chance of regaining control of congress is through the further gerrymandering of voting districts. The two biggest factors in redrawing the voting districts are the census results and the party affiliation of the governors in each state. Therefore special attention should be payed to Republican efforts to unseat Dem. governors in the next election. The Republicans know that they don't need to be any more "in touch" with the American public as long as they follow the example of states like Texas who have gerrymandered their state out of the hands of the Dems for the foreseeable future. This makes any "get out the vote" effort for the next election particularly important considering the fact that the turnout for a midterm election is usually much lower. Likewise, there is little doubt in my mind that the Republicans are likely to try to use any hardships the American public are enduring, due to a poor economy (and resulting from the previous administration's policies), to unseat Democratic governors. They'll just say "See, the Dems have been in control and things got worse". Never mind the fact that without a 60 seat majority in the senate the Dems will be constantly blocked by Republican obstructionist tactics.

Posted by: food4thoughts | February 20, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

"The White House's intentions to play an active role in the 2010 enumeration of Americans isn't sitting well with Republicans."
---------------

Heh. Why SHOULD it? To the victor goes the spoils, and all that. I can recall how the Bush administration did things that weren't done before, more than this, and the Dems were angry as well. Big deal. That's politics. Dolmance, you are absolutely correct! I likes the cut of your jib! (thumbs up)

Posted by: SGall23241 | February 20, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

These complaints are coming from the same folks that politicized all aspects of the federal governnment's; from science research to justice.

Posted by: tealbird | February 20, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

These complaints are coming from the same folks that politicized all aspects of the federal government's activities; from science research to the operations of the Justice Department.

Posted by: tealbird | February 20, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Shiny object, shiny object. Lovely that pointless arguments by the GOP can be made on the pages of the Washington Post. The only reason the GOP objects to the White House being informed is because it saw what happened under the Bush Administration the politicizing of everything and anything. Of course, there should be oversight to make sure everything is done lawfully, but their self-rightous clamours are too little, too late.

Posted by: ChicagoTodd | February 20, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Gee let me think now who was it that was doing all that redistricting a few years ago?? Hum, oh yea TOM DELAY, didn't hear any squawking from the GOPERS about that now did we. The Republicans can dish it out but boy they can't take it!

Posted by: sfilutze | February 20, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Who cares what republicans have to say? They are insignificant.

Posted by: jimcummings | February 20, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Everyone knows that Obama was using census data throughout the campaign. Also, Acorn and the DNC has been registering voters using the data. The prevailing mindset, even if illegals are getting registered, is "let the states catch it". There is absolutely no reason to count anyone who is in the country illegally, unless of course it is to make preparations for massive deportations.

Posted by: CitizenPayne | February 20, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

The GOP has infiltrated the Census Bureau since at least the 1980 count and made concerted efforts in 1980 and 1990 to sabotage the count in Democrat-populous cities of Northern California. These are mere echoes of Nixon's closure of the Naval shipyards in Boston and SF after the voters of those cities overwhelmingly supported McGovern in the 1972 election.

Posted by: NIshimoto | February 20, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

The quick answer: We won, get over it.

For the legally-inclined: The Census is conducted by the Administrative Branch. The one run by the guy who won the Presidential election. That same guy gets to appoint the Commerce Secretary, and to talk with any employees of the Commerce Department whenever he wants. That guy could appoint himself, or his own Chief of Staff, as Secretary of Commerce or Census Director, so having his Census Director or Secretary of Commerce over to the White house for a chat anytime is perfectly appropriate constitutional. This whining is downright silly. Let us know when someone in the White House seeks to fudge the data collected or the conclusions reached, like the Bush administration did repeatedly. THEN we'll have something worth discussing.

Posted by: 4avocats | February 20, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

The quick answer: We won, get over it.

For the legally-inclined: The Census is conducted by the Administrative Branch. The one run by the guy who won the Presidential election. That same guy gets to appoint the Commerce Secretary, and to talk with any employees of the Commerce Department whenever he wants. That guy could appoint himself, or his own Chief of Staff, as Secretary of Commerce or Census Director, so having his Census Director or Secretary of Commerce over to the White house for a chat anytime is perfectly appropriate constitutional. This whining is downright silly. Let us know when someone in the White House seeks to fudge the data collected or the conclusions reached, like the Bush administration did repeatedly. THEN we'll have something worth discussing.

Posted by: 4avocats | February 20, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Everyone knows that Obama was using census data throughout the campaign. Also, Acorn and the DNC has been registering voters using the data. The prevailing mindset, even if illegals are getting registered, is "let the states catch it". There is absolutely no reason to count anyone who is in the country illegally, unless of course it is to make preparations for massive deportations.

Posted by: CitizenPayne | February 20, 2009 1:32 PM
___________________________________________

OK, I give....mind telling us all how "using census data" is an evil deed? If I look at an atlas and get the population of a city, is that illegal? Your statement makes no sense to me. Acorn and the DNC DID register new voters, as did the NRA and the RNC.

Posted by: md83 | February 20, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

Posted by: atsegga | February 20, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it is about redistricting. After all, Republicans had a total lock on Washington last census, and they did some pretty questionable things, at least here in TX. Remember the Rove plan for one-party rule? The Republicans might really have something to worry about, if they cheated on the last redistricting, and are afraid their attempt to rig future elections is going to be undone in 2010.

Let them sweat.

Posted by: lonquest | February 20, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"Republicans See 'Red Flags' Over White House Census Interest"

Well, duh! Of course they do. They are all Kooky Kristian Konspiracists.

The republican party as we know it is dead. Leaderless. Bankrupt. Clueless. Answer me this: Who's the leader of the party? McCain? Steele? Limbaugh? McConnell? Gingrich?

Someone from the right side of the aisle is going to have grow some cajones and step up to the plate.

Sitting on the sidelines saying "No!" to everything makes you look, well, leaderless, bankrupt, clueless.

DAStubbs,
Minneapolis

Posted by: dastubbs | February 20, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I remember not too long ago that Republicans were telling us, "elections have consequences."

Posted by: nodebris | February 20, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Republicans should be seeing White Flags -- of Surrender. As a party, they are finished. This is their Battle of the Alamo and they are about to be wiped out. They are led by General Custer, and Sitting Bull is demolishing them. We're now witnessing the Grand Old Party's Last Stand. After all, their Commanding General now is Rush Limbaugh. How utterly pitiful. They'd have a much better chance if their General was Jubilation T. Cornpone.

Please visit my Blog: "Conservatives Are America's Real Terrorists"
http://conservativesarecommunistss.blogspot.com/

Posted by: cjprentiss | February 20, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

No news here!

Posted by: vicbennettnet | February 21, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

This is quite newsworthy, and everyone should pay close attention to whast happens in this next census,comparing it to what transpired after the last census.To realize, in 2000 and 2001 after the tally was released, republicans had quite a stronghold on political offices throughout the country,from the white house all the way down to your your house,it was possibly one small era that any party could have claimed so widespread authority on this country.And the "Changes" supposedly necessary for changes in populations throughout the mid-west, and basically anywhere the GOP was struggling to gain advantage, came to the chopping block.Areas in my little corner of the world, Northwest Ohio,some that had been strongholds of the Democrats,and unchanged in 100 years, all of a sudden were split in two or sometimes into three different districts,most times giving upper handed control of those districts to the GOP in all three.The rules that were applied were written, and enforced by the same party trying to amass absolute control of every level of our government.And its about time some sensible people with less alterior motives have an eye on something that affects every election.It is how our states select how our electoral system will work, and except for the abyssmal operation of the GOP fro the previous 8 years,and a poor choice for candidate in 2008,things could get too conservative again, real quick.

Posted by: mullett | February 23, 2009 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone catch the fact that this political transfer ALSO,that's right i said ALSO, comes with a ONE BILLION DOLLARS
to be spent by the Whitehouse and under President Obama's very heavy hand? I did. What say you?

Posted by: ThomasTibbals | February 23, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Dear Ms. Akers, I am a registered Independent and even I see RED over at the White House. So just don't say that about the Rebublicans. Oh yeah, there are a lot of Democrats that see RED too. WISE UP.

Posted by: poptoy1949 | February 23, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

When the Republicans were pulling this in Texas they went so far as to get the state troopers to go over the state line to try to bring the Democrats back to Texas for a vote. They needed to do that to hold on to power in Texas, they're going to need to start being relevant again and caring about the middle and lower classes instead of pandering to the rich and religious right in order to get back any power instead of their usual redistricting, gerrymandering and negative campaigning that has been their modus operandi for 60 plus years.

Posted by: davidbronx | February 23, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Commerce department is part of the executive branch. Let's see, who does the executive branch report to?

Posted by: spidey103 | February 23, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Mr. President Barack H. Obama, spoke with the up most elequence of any speaker, majority or minority, as he always masterfully do's.

"YOU GUYS"
He then proceeded to call on the Democrats, Republicans, economist, business representitives and unions leaders, inviting questions and comments. He referred to the group generally as "you guys" and casually addressed even the moth senoir lawmaker by first name.

The Democrat very purposely started with, perhaps, the likeliest of all people-the Republican he vanquished in last fall's election, John McCain.

"You know, he and I had some good debates about these issue's"Obama said-an understatement to be sure and one that drew laughter. He also praised the Arizona senator as "extraordinarily consistent and sincere about these issue's."

"Well, thank you, Mr. President,"McCain said and quickly delved into the issue of cost overruns on large government buy's. "You helicopter is going to cost as much as Air Force One."

Using the opportunity to talk of purchasing process "gone amok" Obama said he had ordered a thorough review of his new fleet of Marine One helicopters.

"The helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate to me," Obama said wryly, inciting more laughter. "Of course, I've never had a helicopter before. So, you know, maybe I've been deprived and I didn't know it

Posted by: opp88 | February 24, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

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