A strange attack on the Census
This week we wrote about a weird movement to end part of the U.S. Census for our weekly newsletter, Speaking Out! You can subscribe to Speaking Out! here on our Facebook page.
The New York Times writes that the American Community Survey “may be the most important government function you’ve never heard of.” A supplement to the U.S. Census, ACS collects data on trends that define American life, like how many people are low-income, how people get health care, what languages they speak, and more. Bafflingly, some in Congress have rallied to end the survey.
Last May the House voted to scrap ACS, which has been providing key data on American demographics in some form or other since 1850. Citing concern over how the program “intrudes on people’s lives,” Rep. Daniel Webster has led the charge against the data collection program. Yet ACS data is used only to present an aggregate portrait of communities, and is the only survey of its kind.
Although strange, this attack is being taken seriously by Voices and its partners. After all, good data is important to understanding public policy and the plight of needy children. According to the Brookings Institution, the survey is key to understanding how over $400 billion in government funds are spent. The Joint Economic Committee conducted a hearing on ACS Tuesday; we’ll be keeping an eye on this issue.