White House political adviser David Axelrod says the Obama administration’s plan to put the U.S. Census Bureau under the control of top administration officials will keep the bureau in expert hands.
Axelrod, appearing on "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace," said that, despite the the West Wing's move to manage the bureau, the census would continue to “be in the charge of the professionals who conduct it."
Republicans, who oppose the move on the grounds that it will politicize the 2010 census, say supervision of it by the Democratic Party will taint the results and skew new congressional representative district lines for the 2012 elections.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., weighed in on the move by telling Newsmax TV she and her fellow Commerce Committee members are "terribly disappointed and very concerned" that Obama wants to end the traditional autonomy of the bureau by placing it directly under the control of the White House.
“This is a very dangerous move,” Blackburn said.
Blackburn and her GOP colleagues, including Rep. Jason Chafitz, R-Utah, who calls the move nothing more than a Democratic political grap, fear the takeover of the census is a not-so-disguised effort by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to pad the number of Democrats in the House.
“I think we all are concerned about that," Blackburn said, "because if you’re going to statistically alter or adjust the numbers, then you’ll have districts or states that may end up with more members of congress as opposed to areas that have seen a lot of growth that would have fewer members of congress.”
Axelrod, who was Obama's chief campaign strategist in the presidential election, told “FOX News Sunday” there are “great professionals” in the bureau. “We intend to bring in additional, impeccable people. The White House needs to ensure that the census is fair and accurate, and that's what we're going to do. But the way to do that is put professionals in those slots to run the census in the most advanced way they can."
Asked whether he or Emanuel, who was chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, intend to directly supervise the census, Axelrod said: "I am not an expert on the census, and neither is Rahm. We want the experts to run this program; we want to make sure that every American is counted."
Blackburn is calling on Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., to hold committee hearings to look into the decision to hand control of the census over to the Obama administration instead of the department of commerce.
“I just find that so very unfortunate,” Blackburn said, “and I’m tremendously disappointed and very, very concerned about this happening. We are terribly disturbed about the politics coming back into the census process.”
Blackburn is not alone in her criticism of the egregious move by the administration. Joining her in a letter sent to Waxman earlier this week calling for hearings were several other prominent Republicans.
"Any attempt by the Obama administration to circumvent the census process for their political benefit will be met with fierce opposition,” U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., wrote in a letter to Obama. The letter, co-signed by North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry, refers to the move by the administration as “an ill-conceived proposal [that] undermines a constitutionally obligated process that speaks to the very heart of our democracy."
The letter also targeted Emanuel, stating: “Requiring the Census Director to report directly to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is a shamefully transparent attempt by your Administration to politicize the Census Bureau and manipulate the 2010 Census.”
Blackburn says the bureau has come a long way toward ridding itself of politics infiltrating the ranks. “They have worked diligently to make certain that they have good people that are well-trained, and that they produce an honest count that we can work from."
Blackburn assures that she and other critics of the move "will continue to push forward and see what else we can do to make certain that the American people are fully aware that this is taking place. It is not being brought forward as a vote from congress, it is being done just as an executive action."
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