Little noted move on census by Obama could spell GOP disaster

There's a reason the Census Bureau is a quaisi-independent agency that reports directly to the Commerce secretary.

Once every ten years, numbers from the census are used to draw the lines for Congressional districts. What makes the Census Bureau such a pivotal player, especially today, is that it is generally recognized the districts that contain high concentrations of minorities and illegal aliens are undercounted. This is not the fault of the Census Bureau who rely on thousands of local residents to help them in carrying out the door to door counting of people but rather the general mistrust of government that keeps people from applying for the temporary jobs offered as well as the relative safety of the canvassers in many neighborhoods where the undercounts are alleged.

The census has been taken since the very early days of the republic and always in as non-partisan a manner as possible. Until now:

The Capitol Hill publication Congressional Quarterly yesterday reported that the White House, responding to minority groups' concerns about Gregg's commitment to funding the census, has decided to have the director of the Census Bureau report directly to the White House.

Minorities are traditionally concerned about an accurate count because the census numbers are used to apportion political power, through redistricting, and federal funding, reflecting demographic changes over the past decade.

The White House move angered some House Republicans, who called it a power grab directed by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Last, Congressional Quarterly updated the story, noting, "The White House took a small step back from what the senior official told CQ, releasing a statement late Thursday that couched the relationship between the Census Bureau director and the West Wing as one in which the director would work with the high-level officials rather than report directly to them."

Trying to game the census for political purposes is just about what we'd expect from this crew. They have talked so long about building a permanent majority, manipulating numbers to perhaps overcount their core constituencies should not be put past them.

If Bush/Rove had dared to do something like this it would have been headline news nationally. As it is, we hear barely a peep from the media and are not likely to in the future.

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