Following is a compilation of notable reports and opinions regarding U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s announcement that she will refuse to complete the 2010 U.S. Census beyond reporting the number of members in her household.
By Ali Frick
June 25, 2009
Last week, Rep. Michele “I’m not a kook” Bachmann (R-MN) boasted about breaking the law in refusing to complete the 2010 Census. The Census is the perfect boogeyman for Bachmann in that it unites her conspiracy theories about the Obama administration with her monomaniacal determination to crush the community organizing group ACORN, which is one of over 30,000 partner organizations helping to promote the 2010 Census among the people it reaches.
On Fox News this morning, Bachmann repeated her determination to break the law. She also suggested that the Obama administration could use the Census data for nefarious purposes – including the imprisonment of Americans in concentration camps:
BACHMANN: If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the census bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations, at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps. I’m not saying that’s what the Administration is planning to do. But I am saying that private, personal information that was given to the census bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up.
There are many things wrong with Bachmann and host Megyn Kelly’s so-called analysis: First, both women were shocked that the Census would ask for people’s telephone numbers. However, that information is not required by law [PDF], and is used only to contact recipients who have incomplete forms.
Second, Bachmann is confusing the 2010 Census and the American Community Survey (ACS), a long-form survey sent out to one in 40 households (0.0028 percent of the American public) each year. The Census, sent out once every ten years, asks only about one’s age, race, and the type of home one lives in. The ACS, started in 1996, collects more detailed data used to distribute more than $300 billion in federal funds to local communities.
Most importantly, the questions that Bachmann is so concerned about – questions she suggests might somehow lead to internment – are not new questions (not to mention they frequently overlap with information given to the IRS every year). Census questions on race have been asked since 1790 [PDF]; home language since 1890; rent since 1880; and income since 1940. The Census has asked what kind of heating fuel heats Americans’ homes since 1940.
Finally, its a federal crime for any Census worker to violate the confidentiality of the Census form, punishable by a federal prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
Update: A Census official contacted ThinkProgress to clarify that, contrary to what some media outlets report, ACORN will not have any role in collecting Census responses. ACORN is simply one of thousands of partners who have agreed to help promote the fact that the Census bureau will soon have many job openings.
By Jason Linkins
June 26, 2009
As we related yesterday, Michele Bachmann has drawn a line in the sand, and will not fill out the Census, and no one really cares because who in America really wants to see government resources allocated to the Bachmann demographic, anyway? Nevertheless, Bachmann is the Neda Agha Soltan of fighting ACORN and the Census. “Why does the government need our phone numbers?” complains Bachmann, making me wonder if she plans on robo-calling her constituents come re-election time. You know I’ll be watching for that!
Anyway, yesterday, Michele Bachmann went on the Glenn Beck Common Sense Comedy Hour to talk about all of this. Understandably, Bachmann is concerned with whether the government should know about its citizens’ “mental stability.” …
But here’s the revelatory part of Bachmann’s conversation: It appears that there actually is a point at which you can even out-bonkers Glenn Beck! Watch as the video gets to about the two-minute mark. That’s when Bachmann starts up her “OMGZ! THE INTERNMENT CAMPZ” spiel. Beck starts shaking his head in disbelief, and then just shuts her down, mid-thought! Is that a bridge too far for Glenn Beck, who runs the most realistic Doom Room in Cable news? Maybe! Of course, I can’t help but notice that Beck set Bachmann up perfectly to proffer that answer.
By Bob Von Sternberg
June 26, 2009
Rep. Michele Bachmann, citing concerns about government intrusiveness, says she won’t fully fill out the U.S. Census form next year, even though that’s a violation of federal law.
In a television interview broadcast Thursday, the Minnesota Republican repeated an assertion she first made last week that she will provide the Census Bureau only with the number of people in her household. The other detailed questions, she said, amount to an invasion of her family’s privacy.
“I’m saying, for myself and my family, our comfort level is we will comply with the Constitution Article I Section II,” Bachmann told a Fox News interviewer. “We will give the number of people in our home, and that’s where we’re going to draw the line.”
That section of the Constitution created the House of Representatives and specifies that a decennial “enumeration” will be used to apportion the chamber’s seats.
Under federal law, it’s a misdemeanor to “refuse or willfully neglect to complete the questionnaire or answer questions posed by census takers,” punishable by a fine of up to $5,000. However, the Census Bureau notes that it is not a prosecuting agency and that refusing to answer its questions is not likely to result in a fine.
Bureau spokeswoman Shelly Lowe said Bachmann is “misreading” the law because “it’s mandatory to answer the questions.”
In her interview, Bachmann said that “Americans are being compelled to give this information” in violation of the Constitution. She added: “I’m not encouraging Americans not to fill out the census.”
Questions about Americans’ household incomes and commuting times are intrusive, said the Sixth District congresswoman. “These are very intricate questions that are being asked of the American people, and I think it’s time as a lawmaker that we come together and start looking out for the American individual and their privacy rights, as well.”
All Americans will be asked next year to answer questions about their name, sex, age, date of birth, race, ethnicity, relationship and housing tenure.
A small percentage will be sent what is called the American Community Survey, a far more detailed set of questions that is conducted periodically and will be, in effect, melded with answers from the short census form. As with the short census form, it is mandatory to answer that survey, according to the Census Bureau.
Those questions delve into such things as income, citizenship, disability and educational attainment and appear to generally reflect questions asked in previous censuses on the now-canceled long form.
“I am just not comfortable with the way this census is being handled … with the questions that are being asked,” Bachmann said.
Concerns about ACORN
Bachmann also has said she fears that ACORN, the community organizing group that came under fire over its voter registration efforts last year, will be part of the Census Bureau’s door-to-door information collection efforts.
For months, she has been criticizing the group, which has become a high-profile Republican target.
ACORN (Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) is one of 40,000 organizations nationwide that are working with the Census Bureau to promote the census, said Nick Kimball, a spokesman for the Commerce Department, the bureau’s parent agency.
“They’re getting no money from the Census Bureau, and it’s incredibly misleading to insinuate that ACORN will be going door to door, collecting information. It’s simply not true,” he said.
In her comments Thursday, Bachmann also linked the census to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
“Between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up,” she said. “I’m not saying that that’s what the administration is planning to do, but I am saying that private personal information that was given to the Census Bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up.”
By Jason Easley
June 26, 2009
Michele Bachmann was on Glenn Beck’s Fox News show today, and the result was an absolute panic over the 2010 Census. Beck worried that by not filling out the Census the government could take away his gun. Bachmann also continued to claim that the Census information could used to put Americans into internment camps.
Here is the video from Media Matters:
She continued, “Here is the other thing that will happen. From history the United States government between 1942 and 1947 passed the second War Powers Act. They used the U.S. Census information to round up the Japanese and put them in the internment camps. Americans were told that they would have their information used against them. They did.” …
Doesn’t it undercut Bachmann’s entire privacy argument, if the government is able to get the information they need by asking your neighbors? How much confidential information can your neighbors know about you? I hate to tell Michele Bachmann this, but if she has filled out an income tax form, Uncle Sam has her phone number. Heck, if the government wants to, they can listen to her phone calls.
Beck and Bachmann are the Ken and Barbie of conspiracy theorists. Bachmann continues to confuse the Census with the American Community Survey, which is not sent to every American. Bachmann and Beck don’t care about facts. They are out weave a giant Obama, ACORN, Census, concentration camps conspiracy theory that is as silly as it is crazy.
By Jason Easley
June 25, 2009
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann was on Fox News this morning tying her conspiracy theories about President Obama to the Census. Bachmann united her Obama concentration camp theory and the Census, by stating that the Census was used to round up Japanese Americans and send them to internment camps during World War II, and Obama could do the same. …
Bachmann was on FNC to further her Census and ACORN conspiracy theory: “Finally, I am very concerned about ACORN. Remember, it was the Obama White House that wanted to pull the Census into the White House, and conduct the Census. Why is this important? The Census is the motherload of all data collection in the United States, and now ACORN, which in many places has served as the electioneering arm of the Democrat Party, now ACORN is being encouraged to become a national partner in the Census.”
Then she warped some American history: “If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the census bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations, at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps. I’m not saying thats what the Administration is planning to do. But I am saying that private, personal information that was given to the census bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up.”
First of all, the Census requires no personal information, like a telephone number on the form. As Think Progress pointed out, Bachmann is confusing the Census with the American Community Survey, which is sent out to 1 in 40 American homes. As you can see from the 2010 Census form [PDF], no personal information is collected. Thirdly, it is a federal crime for any census taker to violate the confidentiality of a respondent.
Also nothing has changed with who is conducting the Census. Obama did not pull the Census into the White House. It is the same system that has been used since 1970. ACORN will not be conducting the Census. The organization may help recruit census takers, but they will not be involved in the census taking itself. The Obama administration did not outsource the Census to ACORN.
This is simply more baseless Bachmann paranoia. …
By Eric Kleefeld
Talking Points Memo
June 25, 2009
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is taking her refusal to fully fill out her Census form, which is a crime punishable by a $5,000 fine, to a whole new level: Invoking the memory of the Japanese internment during World War II, and the evil role that the Census played in it! … Full story
Political satire by John Andreini
June 26, 2009
During the Great Depression, our grandparents would find a brief respite from their difficult circumstances by reading the Sunday comics. The adventures of Superman, Buck Rogers, Krazy Kat, Popeye, Dick Tracy, and Little Orphan Annie helped people enjoy some humor in life and a bit of escapism from the hard times of the day.
With a few exceptions, today’s Sunday comics are neither comical nor engaging, so those of us struggling through the latest economic disaster to befall this country have to look elsewhere for cheap thrills.
I’ve found my Krazy Kat in Michele Bachmann. While routinely scanning news headlines on my favorite political sites, my heart races with anticipation every time the name “Bachmann” pops up in 14 pt. type. I know I can count on the story beneath that headline to rock my world.
Ooops, she did it again. Michele has been announcing to anyone who will listen, and don’t ask me why anyone would except those of us who need our daily giggles, that she’s not going to fill out all of her 2010 Census form. From the woman who knows more about climatology than all the world’s experts combined, we learn that the Census can somehow be linked to internment camps and other nefarious government plots to shackle and silence all real Americans – especially the lunatics.
Oddly, Bachmann didn’t raise these dire concerns several years ago when the Bush Cartel was asking Congress to let it wiretap and open the email every American with a pulse. That was Bush. Obama, the shape-shifting demon raised by terrorists in a secret laboratory in the mountains of Afghanistan in order to bring America to its knees from inside the Oval Office, is a different story.
I was appalled when Minnesotans of the Sixth District reelected Bachmann back in 2008, but I have a very different perspective on the whole affair now. She’s funnier than any Sunday comic (with the exception of Dilbert) and her every insane utterance is the stuff of which legends are made. Michele has given me reason to get out of bed every morning.
You go, crazy girl.
By Cathy Wurzer
Minnesota Public Radio
June 26, 2009
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., says she will leave most of her U.S. Census survey blank next year, even though that violates the law. Bachmann told Fox News she is “just not comfortable” answering questions about income and commuting time. MPR’s Cathy Wurzer discusses the situation with a Census Bureau official.
Guest: Steve Buckner, spokesman for the U.S. Census Bureau
Broadcast date: Morning Edition, 06/26/2009, 8:45 a.m.
By Greta Cunningham
Minnesota Public Radio
June 26, 2009
St. Paul, Minn. – A Census Bureau spokesman says his office has met with Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s staff about her concerns over the 2010 census.
Bachmann told Fox News Thursday that she won’t fill out most of the census form, only the number of people in her household. Bachmann, a Republican, says she’s not comfortable answering some of the questions.
Census bureau spokesman Steve Buckner says the census form is just ten questions long, although a small percentage of people may be randomly asked to complete a longer survey.
“So these would include questions such as income, education levels, how long it take you to get to work,” he said. “All of these things are actually tied to federal programs, laws or judicial rulings that say we must collect data on these questions. So Congress approves these questions so they can now administer some of the programs and laws that they’ve passed.”
Buckner says any census worker who violates the privacy rules faces 5 years in prison and a $250,000 dollar fine.
Bachmann finds conspiracies in the strangest places.
June 26, 2007
Conspiracy theories have been a constant in Rep. Michele Bachmann’s political career since she first ran for the Stillwater school board in the late 1990s. She made her initial foray into politics by claiming that the Profile of Learning amounted to social engineering. Her anti-gay-marriage ideas were rooted in notions of sinister forces bent on destroying traditional marriage. Her bizarre rants within the past year against “anti-American” members of Congress, a global currency and government-mandated youth “reeducation camps” all exhibit the same disturbing tendency. She sees threats that few other elected officials perceive, let alone describe on national television.
Another example came this week as Bachmann sounded a shrill alarm against an American institution: the U.S. Census. In yet another TV talk show appearance, the telegenic Republican decried the population survey as “government intrusion,” then warned darkly that census information was used to round up Japanese-American citizens during World War II. The implication, of course, was that it could be used to round up Americans again. Bachmann’s backpedaling “I’m not saying that is what the administration is planning to do” did nothing to squelch those fears, especially considering that she was appearing on the Fox TV show of Glenn Beck, who has spent the months since the presidential election painting apocalyptic visions of the future.
This is hard-core conspiracy theory, the likes of which are rarely seen outside the most extreme parts of the blogosphere. Even Beck seemed taken aback by the government round-up rhetoric.
While Bachmann certainly is entitled to her outside-the-mainstream beliefs, she’s too often crossed a critical line. The two-term congresswoman from Minnesota’s Sixth District bluntly said she will not fully fill out the census form, a misdemeanor punishable by up to $5,000. Her census fear-mongering clearly could push others to do the same. What Bachmann is doing — on national television, no less — is encouraging people to break the law. That’s not right-wing. That’s not conservative. That’s just wrong. …
June 26, 2007
The Annenberg Political Fact Check is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. It is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. Fact Check monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.
Question: Is ACORN providing workers for the 2010 census?
Did the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) sign on as a “national partner” with the U.S. Census Bureau to sign up over 1 million temporary workers to help with the 2010 census?
Answer: No. ACORN employees will not be taking the census. The group is one of more than 30,000 “partners” that will help publicize the event.
ACORN has indeed signed on to partner with the Census Bureau in connection with the 2010 census, along with about 30,000 other groups at the time of this writing. … The Census Bureau’s Web site includes an open invitation to sign on, and the agency says it expects to have more than 100,000 partners by the time the process is over. That may even be an underestimate: In 2000, it signed up 140,000 partners. …
The Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact has just given Rep. Michele Bachmann two “Pants on Fire” ratings on the Truth-O-Meter for her incorrect interpretation of Constitutional authority regarding the census and her false allegations regarding ACORN’s involvement in the 2010 census.
PolitiFact is a project of the St. Petersburg Times to help you find the truth in American politics. Reporters and editors from the Times fact-check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups and rate them on our Truth-O-Meter. …
Bachmann: The Constitution only requires us to tell the census “how many people are in our home.”
Bachmann: ACORN will be a paid partner with the Census Bureau and “they will be in charge of going door-to-door and collecting data from the American public.”
By Ed O’Keefe
Federal Eye blog
July 2, 2009
… At some point last month, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said she would refuse to fill out anything more than the number of people in her household on her Census questionnaire. She argued that questions other than how many people live in her home are unconstitutional and feared that political groups, including ACORN, might try to sway final Census numbers.
Republican colleagues have now called her boycott illogical and illegal.
“Every elected representative in this country should feel a responsibility to encourage full participation in the census. To do otherwise is to advocate for a smaller share of federal funding for our constituents,” Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) and John Mica (R-Fla.) said in a statement. The trio is members the House Census Oversight Subcommittee.
They argue that her boycott only increases the likelihood of political interference, because Census staffers and volunteers would have to visit her home to do a followup interview.
“Anyone who completes and returns their census form will remove any need for a census taker to visit their residence,” the group said.
Census officials stress that the agency’s community partners (including ACORN) might go door-to-door, but only to promote participation and not to collect personal information. Bachmann’s statements also seemed to confuse the 2010 Decennial Census questionnaire with the American Community Survey, a longer questionnaire that gets randomly sent to households every year to ask a series of Census and economic questions.
Observers have called Bachmann’s Census statements “wildly wrong” and her statements on various issues have raised Eyebrows before (there’s even a blog that chronicles her activities). Still, her concerns about Census questionnaires are nothing new: several prominent Republican leaders have raised concerns in the past.
[Informative reader posts in Comments section]
On July 10 the St. Cloud Times offered readers an informative look at the particulars of the decennial U.S. census, in response to the national controversy about 6th District Rep. Michele Bachmann’s recent declaration “that she won’t completely fill out her 2010 census form, calling it an invasion of privacy.”
Specifically, on June 17, Rep. Bachmann stated on the Washington Times’ morning radio show that she would refuse to answer the 2010 census questions, beyond reporting the number of members in her household:
BACHMANN: The mother lode of all data information will be from the census. … Unfortunately, the census data has become very intricate, very personal, a lot of the questions that are asked. I know for my family, the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home. We wont be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesnt require any information beyond that.
As first reported by ThinkProgress, “Bachmann explained that her fears over the Census were in large part due to the fact that her Number-One Enemy, ACORN, could possibly be involved. (The group might help recruit some of the 1.4 million people needed to go door-to-door to count every American.) She insinuated that former senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) had lost his reelection bid because of ‘fraudulent votes’ perpetrated by ACORN.”
BACHMANN: This is what ACORN will do. They will get multiple fraudulent voter registration forms, stuff the registrar’s office with them, in hopes that maybe not all fraudulent registrations will find people at the polls voting. But there may be some people who get through. And sometimes you don’t often need many in order to sway an election one way or another. I come from Minnesota. We’re still in a recount with our U.S. Senate race between Sen. Norm Coleman and the challenger Al Franken. Sen. Coleman won the race on election day, but that was challenged repeatedly, over and over, with what we feel may be fraudulent vote [sic], and we’re very concerned about what comes forward.
“At the end of the interview, Bachmann declares it to be a ‘badge of honor’ to be a ‘target’ of the press,” reported ThinkProgress.
On June 25 PolitiFact, the Pulitzer prize-winning project of the St. Petersburg Times dedicated to helping the public “find the truth in American politics,” published a fact-check of Bachmann’s assertions regarding the census.
By Eric Roper
The Big Question blog
July 13, 2009
Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has made national headlines in recent weeks for her criticisms of the U.S. Census, is co-sponsoring legislation which would limit the national survey to four questions: name, age, date of response and number of people living in one household.
Bachmann, who is sponsoring the bill along with its author, Texas Republican Tim Poe, previously said that she would not answer all of the questions on the Census, drawing criticism from a group of Republicans on the Census Oversight Subcommittee. “Boycotting the constitutionally-mandated census is illogical, illegal and not in the best interest of our country,” wrote Reps. Patrick McHenry, Lynn Westmoreland and John Mica.
In a statement today announcing the legislation, Bachmann wrote that the Census is a necessary tool, especially for determining the number of Representatives per state and directing taxes. “But throughout the years, additional questions of a more personal nature were added so that the federal government could have more detailed information to make and implement its ever-expanding public policy,” Bachmann wrote. “A lot of Americans – myself included, have real concerns about the ultimate protection of our sensitive personal information.”
Questions that the bill would eliminate include the race, ethnicity, relationship status and sex of the respondent.
The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary and Oversight committees.
By Andy Birkey
The Minnesota Independent
July 20, 2009
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)
Rep. Michele Bachmann’s opposition to the U.S. Census is spreading, according to the Bakersfield Californian. A Bakersfield man is boycotting the Census, and the paper thinks Bachmanns campaign might be the cause. …
“Talk about Big Brother,” Kent Lenhard told The Californian. “I read it over twice and thought, ‘Wow, I can’t believe this.’”
Lenhard says he wont fill out the American Community Survey, a long survey sent to a random sampling of households by the Census Bureau each yeah. The paper speculates that Bachmann’s campaign against the census is Lenhard’s motivation. …
By Emily Kaiser
July 21, 2009
Sen. Amy Klobuchar came out against Rep. Michele Bachmann’s recent tirade against the Census, urging Minnesotans to fill it out to ensure we get our congressional seats and funding in the coming years.
Bachmann has been loud and proud about her plan to boycott the U.S. Census in 2010 by only filling out how many people live in her household. She thinks the questions are too personal and she fears ACORN is going to misuse the information.
During a Joint Economic Committee hearing, Klobuchar stated the importance the the Census and Minnesotans filling it out so we don’t lose a congressional seat, according to Minnesota Public Radio. …
In addition to her boycott, Bachmann has created a bill to change the Census and limit the questions asked. Her Census conspiracies aren’t exactly taking root. Even her fellow Republicans told her to shut up. Many publications have debunked many of her claims, including her statement that ACORN members will be going door-to-door collecting personal information.
By Bob Von Sternberg
June 22, 2009
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is pushing her Minnesota constituents — hard — this week to fill out the 2010 Census, saying federal dollars and congressional representation are at stake.
That puts her at odds with Sixth District Rep. Michele Bachmann, who set off a firestorm a month ago, when she said she wouldn’t fully fill out the census form, saying it’s an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.
Although Klobuchar did not specifically criticize Bachmann’s statements, she said today that she wanted “to get countervailing views about the census and privacy issues.” … I want to get out the correct information.”
Bachmann has stuck to her contention that the Constitution requires her to only provide the Census Bureau with the number of people in her household, even though failure to fill out the form violates federal law. …
Her spokesman, Dave Dziok, said today Bachmann has continued to say “it’s a matter for families to decide on their own. She’s not doing an all-out press campaign to encourage people to not fill out the census. She’s absolutely not encouraging people to boycott it.” …
Klobuchar initially weighed in on next year’s census Tuesday during a congressional Joint Economic Hearing, noting that Minnesota could potentially lose a congressional seat next year if its population is undercounted. …
During her testimony Tuesday, she said, “The census has a profound impact on Minnesota’s communities. It’s important that every Minnesotan is counted, so we get our fair share of congressional seats and federal funding.”
She cited a recent analysis by the state demographer’s office, which found that missing a single person from every township in the state could mean the loss of a congressional seat. The office also estimates that 100 Minnesotans missing from the Census count could result in the loss of $1 million to $1.2 million in federal funds to the state over a decade.
Five former census directors testified during the hearing “and they assured me and the other committee members that all of the information collected will be kept private,” Klobuchar said. “These five witnesses oversaw the census in both Republican and Democratic administrations.” …
RELATED REPORTS ON THIS SITE
2 ‘Pants on Fires’ for Bachmann (June 30, 2009)
Census: Bachmann ‘Pants on Fire’ (July 1, 2009)
ACORN: Bachmann ‘Pants on Fire’ (July 2, 2009)
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