My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘House of Representatives’

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Sign this MyTwoCensus Petition: Ensure that the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey is not eliminated

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

UPDATE: Click HERE for the petition!

As the founder and executive editor of MyTwoCensus.com, I am astounded that the GOP, the political party that consistently claims to be pro-business, recently voted to nix an operation, the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, that provides enormous sums of data that help American businesses.

Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) is a career politician and a big fat idiot (who is apparently just as ignorantly conservative as his namesake fellow politician). If only he had more business experience, it’s doubtful that he would be calling the American Community Survey “intrusive,” “an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars,” “unconstitutional,” and “the very picture of what’s wrong in D.C.” (Ironically, it Webster’s salary that is a waste of tax payer dollars, intrusive, and what’s wrong in D.C.)

For those unfamiliar with the American Community Survey, it is, according to Wikipedia, “an ongoing statistical survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, sent to approximately 250,000 addresses monthly (or 3 million per year). It regularly gathers information previously contained only in the long form of the decennial census. It is the largest survey other than the decennial census that the Census Bureau administers.”

While the survey is currently listed as mandatory, I person has ever been prosecuted for not completing it. (Perhaps the Census Bureau should make it optional to appease critics.)

Yes, the Census Bureau should move to an online survey from its current paper-based system to save taxpayers significant sums of money (and put the US Postal Service one step closer to its grave), but that doesn’t mean that the treasure trove of data that will be lost is any less valuable.

As the Washington Post’s editorial board accurately wrote, “Every year, the Census Bureau asks 3 million American households to answer questions on age, race, housing and health to produce timely information about localities, states and the country at large. This arrangement began as a bipartisan improvement on the decennial census. Yet last week the Republican-led House voted to kill the ACS. This is among the most shortsighted measures we have seen in this Congress, which is saying a lot.”

The Post continues, “Businesses deciding whether to sell tractors or tricycles want to know how many people live in a given area, whether they mostly live in apartments or houses, with how many children, and how far they travel to work. Consumers then get access to goods and services they desire. Municipal planners determining whether to build a new senior center need to know where the elderly live in their town, and if they have family around to care for them. Government agencies targeting $400 billion in annual anti-poverty, health-care or highway spending require granular data on things such as local incomes. Lawmakers debating health-care policy should have up-to-date information on how many people are uninsured, and where they are concentrated.”

In response to this legislation, I have started a petition to alert the United States Senate of this unthinkably stupid legislation that has already been passed by the House of Representatives.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: A Rare Spell Of Bipartisanship Spells Good News For The 2010 Census

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Since Members of  the House of Representatives face re-election every two years, they are constantly campaigning, and always on the lookout for legislation that may be used to attack them. I suspect the fears of populist discontent and anti-Washington sentiment (perhaps combined with just a tinge of moral values) are what led all but two Republican members of the House of Representatives to support legislation that makes March 2010 “2010 Census Awareness Month.” This show of bipartisanship was unexpected yet welcome.

Even former 2010 Census critic Michele Bachmann (R-MN) jumped on board this movement. This is an excellent first step to combatting anti-census sentiment that has swept the nation in the past few months, coinciding with the growth of the Tea Party movement.

The level of GOP discontent with Michael Steele and the Republican National Committee should not be ignored: Yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee unanimously passed a bill, with full GOP support (and even co-sponsored by Republicans Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz) to stop the RNC from sending mailers that misuse the word census.  MyTwoCensus has reported on this issue for months, and we are glad to see GOP officials acknowledging their party leader’s mistakes and holding the RNC accountable for their unethical fundraising methods.

House Resolution 1046 Final Version: Census Awareness Month, March 2010

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

To read the final bipartisan resolution that was passed with overwhelming support in the House of Representatives a few hours ago, click here: HR1046

House of Representatives Passes “Census Awareness Month” Bill

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

UPDATE: This resolution passed with overwhelming bipartisan support (I swear, I’m not making this up, and I am quite happy at this moment!) – a rarity these days. Ron Paul was the only Nay (No) vote, and Rob Bishop of Utah, still bitter about Utah falling just short of obtaining an extra Congressional seat in 2000 and the Census Bureau’s refusal to count missionaries who are abroad for extended periods of time, voted present. The remaining 409 Members of the House of Representatives who were in attendance today all voted Aye (Yes) to support the resolution. The final amended resolution can be found here: HR1046

Well, we’re already 10% finished with this month, but March 2010 is now Census Awareness Month according to the United States House of Representatives. The resolution, which had 62 sponsors, passed this afternoon. Here’s the text of the resolution – which has since been amended to clear up statistical debates and other issues that didn’t please both parties (new final version coming soon):

111th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. RES. 1096

Encouraging individuals across the United States to participate in the 2010 Census to ensure an accurate and complete count beginning April 1, 2010, and expressing support for designation of March 2010 as Census Awareness Month.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 23, 2010

Mr. REYES (for himself, Mr. ORTIZ, Mr. GRIJALVA, Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas, Ms. ROYBAL-ALLARD, Mr. SERRANO, Mr. GONZALEZ, Mr. HASTINGS of Florida, Mr. AL GREEN of Texas, Mrs. NAPOLITANO, Mr. BACA, Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas, Mr. GUTIERREZ, Ms. LINDA T. SANCHEZ of California, Mr. SIRES, Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN, Mr. BUTTERFIELD, Mr. CLEAVER, Ms. CLARKE, Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas, Mr. CLAY, Mr. HINOJOSA, Ms. BORDALLO, Mr. SALAZAR, Mr. CUELLAR, Mrs. CHRISTENSEN, Ms. FUDGE, Mr. DAVIS of Illinois, Ms. RICHARDSON, Ms. BERKLEY, Mr. HINCHEY, Mr. CHAFFETZ, Ms. WATSON, Mrs. MALONEY, Mr. THOMPSON of California, Mr. HONDA, Mr. MEEKS of New York, Mr. MORAN of Virginia, Ms. NORTON, Ms. MCCOLLUM, Mr. MCHENRY, Ms. MATSUI, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi, Mr. PAYNE, Mr. BISHOP of Georgia, Ms. CHU, Mr. MEEK of Florida, Mrs. DAVIS of California, Mr. ELLISON, Mr. MCGOVERN, Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida, Mrs. LOWEY, Mr. RODRIGUEZ, Mr. PALLONE, Mr. CAO, and Ms. WOOLSEY) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform


RESOLUTION

Encouraging individuals across the United States to participate in the 2010 Census to ensure an accurate and complete count beginning April 1, 2010, and expressing support for designation of March 2010 as Census Awareness Month.

Whereas the Constitution requires an actual enumeration of the population every 10 years;

Whereas an accurate census count is vital to the well-being of communities in the United States by helping planners determine where to locate schools, daycare centers, roads and public transportation, hospitals, housing, and other essential facilities;

Whereas businesses in the United States use census data to support new investments and growth;

Whereas census data ensure fair Federal, State, and local representation in the United States and help determine the composition of voting districts at each level;

Whereas census data directly affect how more than $400,000,000,000 in Federal and State funding is allocated to communities for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation, etc.;

Whereas census data help identify changes in a community and are crucial for the distribution of adequate services to a growing population;

Whereas the 2000 Census determined the United States had a total population of 281,421,906 and current estimates project the population has grown to 308,573,696;

Whereas the 2010 Census is fast, safe, and easy to complete, with just 10 questions, and requiring only about 10 minutes;

Whereas the 2010 Census data are strictly confidential and Federal law prevents the information from being shared with any entity;

Whereas the data obtained from the census are protected under United States privacy laws, cannot be disclosed for 72 years, or used against any person by any Government agency or court;

Whereas neighborhoods with large populations of low-income and minority residents are especially at risk of being undercounted in the 2010 Census;

Whereas, in the 2000 Census count, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asian Americans were most likely to be undercounted;

Whereas it is estimated that over 16,000,000 people were not counted in the 2000 Census resulting in a decreased share of Federal funding for those undercounted communities; and

Whereas the month of March 2010 would be an appropriate month to designate as Census Awareness Month: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved, That the House of Representatives–
    • (1) encourages individuals across the United States to participate in the 2010 Census to ensure an accurate and complete count beginning April 1, 2010;
    • (2) urges State, local, county, and tribal governments, as well as other organizations to emphasize the importance of the 2010 Census and actively encourages all individuals to participate; and
    • (3) supports the designation of Census Awareness Month.

Book criticizes use of census to apportion House seats

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

The Hartford Courant reports that an upcoming book by a Connecticut population expert criticizes how the Census is used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. According to the newspaper, a series of papers by Orlando Rodriguez, manager of the Connecticut State Data Center, form the basis of the book “Vote Thieves: Illegal Immigration, Congressional Apportionment, and Census 2010,” which is scheduled to be published this fall.

Rodriguez asserts that it’s unfair to use the raw head count to determine House seats, because it doesn’t account for non-voters and illegal immigrants:

But in “Vote Thieves,” Rodriguez argues that representation based on population size unfairly penalizes many Northeastern states and intensifies political polarization. The fundamental problem, Rodriguez says, is that states are given federal representation based on the total count of people there. Apportionment is not made according to voting turnout in states, and not according to those who are legal citizens.

This has two major effects, Rodriguez says. Apportionment by raw head counts hugely favors Southern border states at the expense of Northern and Midwestern states. Those Southern border states tend to have younger populations with low voter turnouts. But the generally older and high-voting populations of the North and Midwest are given fewer representatives and thus fewer votes in the House.

If voter turnout in the most recent presidential elections, instead of raw head counts, was used in assigning House seats, Rodriguez’s calculations show that Connecticut would actually gain a House seat.

It’s unlikely that we’ll see a shift in the way the census is used to determine Congressional representation soon, but Rodriguez makes some pretty interesting arguments against using the raw head count. If you buy Rodriguez’s claims, relying on voter turnout instead could give states an incentive to maximize voter turnout, reduce disenfranchisement and draw competitive legislative districts to draw in moderate voters. And it’s pretty hard to argue against at least taking a closer look at a method of determining House seats that might do that.

Groves worried about cost overruns in 2010 census

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

H/t to Hope Yen of the AP:

WASHINGTON — The head of the Census Bureau on Wednesday expressed concern about cost overruns in preparations for next year’s high-stakes count, saying he was taking steps to help prevent the expenses from ballooning further.

Appearing before a House panel, Robert Groves said poor planning had resulted in added costs in the address canvassing operation that were $88 million higher than the original estimate of $356 million, an overrun of 25 percent.

Groves said the agency had made some faulty assumptions in how quickly it could get work done. The agency was now re-evaluating budget estimates for the entire census operation, which is projected to cost roughly $15 billion.

“Those budget overruns are intolerable,” he told a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee.

Congressional Testimony: The Groves Plan

Friday, September 25th, 2009

In what I can best describe as a State of the Census Address, Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves presented a detailed outline of his future plans before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives on 9/22/09. I have named the speech  “The Groves Plan.” (Click the link for an 11 page transcript of the testimony). The plan is insightful and definitely worth reading.

California could lose a House seat after 2010 census

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
H/T to Richard Simon of the LA Times for reporting on the following:

Reporting from Washington — Here’s yet another result of the bad economy: California’s congressional delegation is unlikely to grow and could even lose a seat after next year’s census for the first time since stagecoach days.

If the state loses a seat, it could weaken California’s clout in Washington and reduce the amount of federal money flowing to the state. It could also set off a game of political musical chairs, forcing two incumbents to run against each other.

As if that weren’t enough, the state that stands to gain the most new seats is California’s longtime rival, Texas, the second most populous state.

With the possible loss of a seat, “an accurate census becomes all the more important to California,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former staff director of the House census oversight subcommittee and a member of President Obama’s transition team for the census.

As California’s population has increased — through the booms of the 1880s, the post-World War II years and the 1980s — so has its clout in Congress.

The delegation has grown every time Congress has reapportioned House seats to reflect population changes. The state gained nine seats — the most ever — after the 1930 census, seven after 1950, eight after 1960, seven after 1990 and one after the 2000 count.

The delegation now stands at 53, the largest of any state.

California neighbors Arizona and Nevada are expected to gain seats, as are Texas, Florida and Georgia. Texas alone could pick up as many as four. Michigan and Ohio, hard hit by the recession, are among the states expected to lose seats.

California’s population has been growing at a slower rate than those of a number of other states, a key factor in apportioning congressional seats. It grew 1.1% last year, its lowest rate in a decade.

“The economy, no doubt, held down the growth rate in California,” said UC Berkeley political scientist Bruce Cain.

Demographers believe that the size of California’s delegation will most likely remain unchanged — still significant because of its history of growth — rather than decrease by one. But they also say the state is on the bubble.

“I would be very surprised if we lost a seat, but not at all surprised if we didn’t gain any, based on the job growth,” said Stephen Levy, director and senior economist of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto.

The state is adding jobs at about the same rate as the national average after above-average job growth from the end of World War II until the early 1990s, when the economy suffered deeply from the collapse of California’s aerospace industry, Levy said.

The Golden State’s share of new immigrants — legal and illegal — has also dropped. The state has been drawing about one-sixth of new immigrants in recent years, down from one-third in the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, said Jeff Passel, a demographer with the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington.

He added that the percentage of immigrants settling in the mountain states and Southeast has risen.

As immigration has slowed, more people have moved out of California to other states than into California from other states — a net loss of more than 435,000 and perhaps as many as 945,000 in the last four years.

“During recessions, when California’s unemployment rate is higher than the nation’s, as is the case right now, we tend to experience quite a bit of outmigration,” said Hans Johnson, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

The state’s population has grown, nonetheless, because births and continued, albeit slowed, immigration have outpaced deaths and people moving out of California.

“Population is driven by jobs and the economy. So in this next census, I think there will be a strong correlation to the regional and state economies and population,” said Tim Storey of the National Conference of State Legislatures. “There’s little doubt that California is going to feel that in a special way.”

Still, the fate of the state’s delegation will remain unclear until after the census is completed, because the current population estimates vary.

If the state’s estimate of 12.6% population growth from 2000 to 2008 is correct, Johnson said, California could still gain a seat or two in Congress. Under the Census Bureau figures of 8.5% growth since 2000, the state’s congressional delegation is likely to remain unchanged.

Although the subject is arcane, size matters in Washington.

Not only is the census used to apportion strength in the House of Representatives and the electoral college, but dozens of federal aid programs are linked to population figures.

The possible loss of a congressional seat was cited by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month in creating a special panel to “make certain everyone is counted so that California gets its fair share of federal dollars and representation in Congress.”

The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders has called for illegal immigrants to boycott the census to ratchet up the pressure on Congress to overhaul immigration laws, but a number of Latino House members from California have spoken out against a boycott, saying it could cost the state dearly. In its decennial count, the Census Bureau does not consider a person’s legal status.

Ironically, declining home values may deter Californians from selling their homes and leaving the state.

Mary Heim, chief of the state Department of Finance’s demographic research unit, said the number of people moving out of California to other states “may not reach the level of the 1990s because the economic slowdown is nationwide this time and not as concentrated in California as it was in the 1990s.”

Retrospective: Statistical Sampling

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

The use of statistical sampling has been a hot political topic that caused a significant amount of partisan debate, discussion, and allegations prior to Robert M. Groves’ U.S. Senate confirmation hearing to become the next director of the U.S. Census Bureau. However this is not a new issue for the decennial headcount. For the readers of this blog who are interested in the history of the sampling dilemma, please check out this article from Science News Online (click here!) about the sampling debate in the days that led up to the 2000 headcount. The result of the  1999/2000 controversy was a ruling of the United States Supreme Court in the case of the Department of Commerce vs. The United States House of Representatives that banned sampling from being used in decennial census counts.

Counting Americans Abroad in the 2010 Census

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

In America’s last decennial headcount, Utah was 800 citizens short of gaining a 4th seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. One major factor: Many Mormons from Utah spend time overseas as missionaries and weren’t counted in the 2000 Census. The Salt Lake Tribune reports how that might change this year:

The State Department would be required to team with the Census Bureau to study the best ways to count Americans living oversees under an amendment offered Wednesday by Utah Rep. Jim Matheson.

The House approved Matheson’s amendment on a voice vote, adding it to a State Department budget bill that will now go before the Senate.

The amendment is in reaction to the 2000 census when Utah came about 800 people shy of gaining a fourth U.S. House seat. But the census didn’t count Mormon missionaries in foreign countries, a bone of contention with Utah officials who unsuccessfully sued.

“It is unfair to Utah that the Census Bureau does not count LDS missionaries living overseas,” Matheson said in a statement. “My amendment will put Utah on a path to ultimately get the full representation it deserves.”

The amendment requires the secretary of state, attorney general and the Census Bureau to explore using passports to help overseas Americans vote in elections and be counted in the census, then report back to Congress. The amendment doesn’t set a deadline, making it unclear whether it would have any impact on the upcoming 2010 census, which is far along in the planning stages.

Regardless, Utah is expected to gain at least one House seat once the population figures are tabulated.