NYT Editorial: Save the census!





Congressional investigators recently outlined 13 issues for President-elect Barack Obama to focus on without delay. Most are obvious, such as military readiness, homeland security, financial regulation and Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The 2010 census also made it onto the urgent 13. It deserves to be there.

As with any huge undertaking, the census requires years of planning, but preparations have been systematically sidetracked during the Bush years. The most plausible explanation, beyond incompetence, is that the administration aimed to make it even more difficult than usual to count hard-to-count groups, like minorities, immigrants and the poor, who tilt Democratic. Their numbers, if accurately gauged, could reshape electoral maps.

The White House, with the early support of a Republican-led Congress, shortchanged and delayed financing for the Census Bureau. The administration left top bureau positions unfilled for long stretches and allowed political judgment to dominate bureau management, which damaged morale and impaired performance.



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