Census Power Grab?

With all of Washington and most of the media mesmerized by debate on the porkulus bill, little attention has been paid to what appears to be an unconstitutional power grab by President Obama.

The Obama administration reportedly wants the U.S. Census to be run directly out of the White House, as opposed to by a politically insulated official within the Department of Commerce.

This would apparently be unprecedented and unlawful because federal law provides that the Census must be administered by the Commerce Department. 

Former Census director Bruce Chapman warns that no good could come of it. At his blog he writes:

Everyone knows that it is possible to organize a Decennial Census in a way that benefits one party or another politically. One way to effectuate this otherwise unpalatable departure from the Census Bureau’s two hundred year history of non-partisanship is to put the Bureau administratively under direction of the politicos in the White House. In reality that would be a sure invitation to cook the books on the highly consequential count of Americans.

Advocates argue that putting the 2010 Census under direct White House control somehow assures a higher priority to its mission. This is cynical. It puts a priority on manipulation of carefully derived Census criteria. The only reason the White House would want to be involved is in figuring out how to add more voting power to certain states and groups within states. […]

(Hat tip to Atlas Shrugs)

POST SCRIPT Feb. 10: John Fund of the Wall Street Journal throws some light on the subject.

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