Census and Censibility

Only last week, John Fund focused attention on the White House’s outrageous takeover of the Census. Fund reported:

The decision was made last week after California Rep. Barbara Lee, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Hispanic groups complained to the White House that Judd Gregg, the Republican senator from New Hampshire slated to head Commerce, couldn’t be trusted to conduct a complete Census. The National Association of Latino Officials said it had “serious questions about his willingness to ensure that the 2010 Census produces the most accurate possible count.”

Fund freely quoted former Census Director Bruce Chapman, who had urged opposition to the politicization of next year’s Census by the White House. Yesterday Chapman returned to the subject to ask whether Gregg jumped or was pushed out of the way as Obama’s nominee to head Commerce. Rick Moran parses the parties’ public statements yesterday and finds the circumstances of Gregg’s withdrawal curious. Moran also focuses on the Census power play:

By, in effect, politicizing the Census, the Obama administration is throwing down the gauntlet and risking an all out war with congressional Republicans over the fruits of the national head count; redistricting the 535 congressional districts to reflect changes in population and the allocation of billions in federal spending.

The stakes are enormous. And given complaints against the Census by Democrats over the years regarding the undercounting of African Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities, we can expect the Obama White House to “find” as many of these grateful voters as is legally possible.

The potential for a true political realignment based on the gerrymandering of district lines in big states to favor more Democrats is now within the reach of the Obama White House. Is this the real reason that Gregg decided to withdraw? Perhaps he felt he was being set up to be the front man for a Census that could cripple the Republican party for years to come and wanted no part of it.

Gregg himself pointed both to the “stimulus” bill and the disposition of the Census as the issues that led to his withdrawal. Of the two, it seems far more likely that the Census — a bureau heretofore under the jurisdiction of Commerce — had far more to do with his withdrawal than the “stimulus” bill. Though the story of Gregg’s withdrawal will fade, it should increase attention on the power grab behind it.

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