This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

House Votes to Lower Census Bureau's Budget--What Are They Thinking?

A few days ago, the members of the Population Association of America were alerted by email to an impending vote in the US House of Representatives aimed at cutting the budget of the Census Bureau. HR 3256 included, among other things, a provision to make the American Community Survey voluntary--a move that, if ultimately enacted--would severely limit its value. I was remiss in not blogging about this, but I did contact my Member of Congress, who nonetheless voted for this bill. Of the five Members of Congress from San Diego County, two voted for it, two voted against, and one (who is busy running for mayor of San Diego) failed to vote. That closely follows the overall vote, which was very close. The vote was a subject of an editorial in today's New York Times:
The Web site of Representative Daniel Webster, Republican of Florida, instructs visitors to click on a link for “Census data for the 8th district” to learn about the area’s economy, businesses, income, employment, homeownership and other important features. And yet, on Wednesday, Mr. Webster declared that the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey — the source for much of that data — is an unconstitutional breach of privacy.He then proposed an amendment to the bureau’s 2013 appropriation to forbid any money from being spent on the survey; the amendment was passed by most House Republicans and four Democrats.
As I pointed out to my own congressman, the cry throughout the nation is to create more jobs, but to do that businesses need information. The census, of which the American Community Survey is an integral part, is our main source of information about the United States. Without that information, we are truly walking in the dark. 

When Republicans proposed similar cuts last year, even the deficit hawks at the United States Chamber of Commerce opposed them.
The White House is opposed to the cuts and the Senate will soon have a chance to reject them when it takes up the appropriation bill. It should.
But let's not just hope that will happen. Contact your senators and push the case. 

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