House Republicans Aching To Destroy Another Useful Thing, The ACS

  kill kill kill

The House passed an amendment Wednesday night to get rid of the American Community Survey entirely, on Privacy Grounds. Oh, god, you can hear them through your windows probably, fapping about their privacy. The ACS is a mandatory survey with 48 questions that a few hundred thousand people are chosen to fill out each month. The numbers are used to determine federal spending allocations based on changing demographics and consumption trends and whatnot. It is Helpful. There’s a fine if you don’t fill it out, although the enforcement there is lenient. But since some of the questions ask you about what kind of toilet you have and stuff, this gives Republicans an excuse to say Democrats are watching you poop and so we need to destroy another program. They say it’s “Orwellian.” (Ha ha, that’s from the Weekly Standard, which exists mostly to push through privacy-crushing surveillance bills and make sure as many people as possible are killed and tortured for no reason.)

We’ve heard this bitching before. In 2010, when Republicans were busy complaining incoherently about that year’s Census for political sport and working overtime to confuse it with the ACS survey, famous RedState/CNN thundershit Erick Erickson went on his radio show (they all have radio shows) and explained that if an ACS representative came to his house reminding him to fill out the survey, he would take his wife’s shotgun and “and see how that little ACS twerp likes being scared at the door.” Now, two years later, and here we have Florida’s “The Other” Daniel Webster bitching on the House floor:

The House on Wednesday also approved an amendment from Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) to stop the annual survey altogether, which was approved 232-190.

“Failure to comply with this survey and turn over this personal information is punishable by up to a $5,000 fine,” Webster said. “Given the intrusive nature of some of these questions, which are mandatory for Americans to answer under penalty of law, it would seem that these questions hardly fit the scope of what was intended or required by the Constitution.

“We need to ask ourselves whether this survey is worth $2.4 billion,” he added, referring to the estimated cost of the ACS over the next decade.

 
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The Census Bureau and supporters of the program argue that the ACS helps the government collect information needed to designed federal programs. The ACS is separate from the census conducted every ten years, which is required under the Constitution.

Hoorah, baby, fuck it. Kill it! Here is a counterargument from Washington City Paper:

Without the ACS, states like North Dakota and Rhode Island—and non-states like our dear District—would have to rely on the (less detailed) data that comes out every 10 years from the decennial U.S. Census.

And, even more importantly for D.C., it collects data on where people work, not just where they live. That means it provides useful stats on the impact of policies in a town like ours, where hundreds of thousands of people commute from Maryland and Virginia to work. The only comparable survey to the ACS is the Current Population Survey—but its sample size is considerably smaller and the data is far less granular.

“Without [the ACS] we really wouldn’t have a reliable way to look at income, poverty, and housing costs on the state level,” says Jenny Reed of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute.

Is there any merit to the privacy claim? Both Reed and Cooper say no. “There’s all sorts of privacy controls,” Cooper says. “Information is top-coded so you can’t identify people.”

Yet for whatever reason, we’re not so sure that House Republicans will listen to sober arguments like those in the above blockquote and arrive at a more nuanced position than “DESTROY THING!”

[WCP, The Hill]

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About the author

Jim Newell is Wonkette's beloved Capitol Hill Typing Demon. He joined Wonkette.com in 2007, left for some other dumb job in 2010, and proudly returned in 2012 as our "Senior Editor at Large." He lives in Washington and also writes for things such as The Guardian, the Manchester paper of liberals.

View all articles by Jim Newell

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91 comments

  1. tihond

    So the urban legend about republicans hiding under people's cars at the mall to try and cut their ACS were true?

  2. SayItWithWookies

    It's Republicans' answer to all our social problems — if we don't know about them, they don't exist.

    1. SmutBoffin

      Depending on where you live, results range from "gold-plated bowl with built-in bidet and iPhone cradle" to "Taco Bell bag, inside a KFC bucket".

    2. MissTaken

      Just last week I learned that there is a urinal in the mens' room at work that is super short and made for boys or otherwise short men. I had no idea!

      1. bagofmice

        The worst is the red west Microsoft campus. 8 buildings with a similar design, ( I am counting the 30's), but they mirror the floor plan of some buildings. This means that if you autopilot atrium left for the men's bathroom, if you're in another building, you will be wondering why there are no urinals and why the stalls are pink for a few seconds.

    3. MadBrahms

      India – a country not known for its quality public sanitation – is actually host to an entire museum of toilets. International toilets! Does globalization know no bounds?

      (Warning: website design at above link will give your visual cortex a swirlie)

        1. Chichikovovich

          And they keep learning new words to misuse in spookily Orwellian ways. "Informed Consent" = "forcible no-opting-out exposure to scientifically worthless propaganda and invasive, pointless, uninformative procedures" is the latest.

  3. littlebigdaddy

    Well, really, how do people think the FEMA camps will work if you don't have information on people's toilets? I mean, if you are putting people from Tennessee in there, you want to be sure to have lots of outhouses.

  4. Troglodeity

    Simple solution to get the GOP to restore funding. Add questions 49 and 50:
    49. Are you gay? If your answer is yes, answer question 50.
    50. How many feet of your intestines have been ruptured by a P-E-N-I-S?

    1. SmutBoffin

      How many feet of your intestines have been ruptured by a P-E-N-I-S?

      Correct answer: "All of them, Katie."

    1. OneYieldRegular

      The kind of people who literally scream in fright when you accidentally open the stall door they're neglected to lock.

  5. FakaktaSouth

    If you come to Erick Erickson's house he will help the Scalia-approved cops strip search you with his Gov McDonnell vaginal probe. Do not fuck with Republican privacy.

    1. prommie

      We need a massive surveillance program in order to root out the people who invade other people's privacy.

  6. SorosBot

    So now Congress is basing policy on crazed conspiracy theories. What's next, outlawing fluoridated drinking water?

    1. MissTaken

      Outlawing fluoridated drinking water is dentist job creation. Why do you hate job creators?

    2. CommieLibunatic

      Not a bad idea, considering the stakes involved in protecting our precious bodily fluids. /cigarchomp

  7. prommie

    Its ironic when people use the word "Orwellian" in a manner that is "Orwellian," isn't it?

  8. Goonemeritus

    This reminds me of a friend that had a commercial piece of property reroofed by a less than quality contractor. When the job proved substandard and my friend complained, his property was burned down the next day. When he confronted the contractor the contractor said no roof no problem. Similarly if you don’t know what is wrong your obligation to fix it goes away.

  9. edgydrifter

    This has nothing to do with privacy. This has everything to do with pesky data getting in the way of whatever hunch-based polices Republicans are trying to promote at any given time.

  10. V572 Is this him?

    And, even more importantly for D.C., it collects data on where people work, not just where they live. That means it provides useful stats on the impact of policies in a town like ours, where hundreds of thousands of people commute from Maryland and Virginia to work.

    Another argument for retrocession*, as if one were needed.

    Oh, and City Paper? It's "more important," not "more importantly." It's all gone downhill since Shafer left.
    ______________________
    * Returning the District of Columbia to VA and MD except for a small federal enclave. We could call it "The Green Zone."

  11. hagajim

    They just want to change it to ask buttsex only questions so they can police the bedroom for us.

    1. V572 Is this him?

      Plus they want to know how many dudes Sandra Fluke is having sex with, on account of which she needs all those birth control pills.

  12. Fairtackle

    It is almost like electing people who believe that government can't do anything right is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  13. SorosBot

    It's funny how none of these Congressional Republicans were concerned about privacy when they passed the PATRIOT Act and Bush was busy spying on everyone.

  14. BarackMyWorld

    "…they all have radio shows…"

    Tell me about it. The demand for airwaves by wingnuts has gotten so great, in addition to the ENTIRE AM BAND, two of our local FM stations in Kansas City recently switched to talk formats. But at least now you can hear the words "slut" and "feminazi" so much more clearly.

    1. bagofmice

      What a waste of FCC regulated bandwidth. That stuff is regulated by the physics of the universe, and is limited. If I have slower wireless Internet because of these blowhards nattering on analog channels, shouting at retirees in '85 mercurys sables, I am gonna be pissed.

      Pissitude attained.

  15. MissTaken

    it would seem that these questions hardly fit the scope of what was intended or required by the Constitution.

    It don't say nothin bout no toilets in teh COnstitushoon. Outhouses fer all, just like the Founders wrote it!11!!

    1. JustPixelz

      Amendment #2: "A well regulated bowel,being necessary for a free movement, the right to bare ass shall not be infringed."

    2. V572 Is this him?

      With slaves to carry the chamberpots out to the cotton fields every morning.

  16. Ruhe

    Republicans eat their own…so if Saturn in the painting is the Republicans, shouldn't the dismembered titan that he's gnawing on be much chubbier?

  17. JustPixelz

    I'm so glad to hear the Repubicans are embracing privacy protections in Constitutional. Now they can STFU about abortion. It's private! Same for the requirements in Texas and Oklahoma that doctors report very specific information about women who get abortions. (e.g. What does her name rhyme with?)

  18. Guppy

    To be honest, I wouldn't be opposed to doing away with the ACS on the grounds of oh my God the motherfucker's long!

    The Census worker that's been in regular contact since has been amicable enough, though.

    (Seriously, the damned thing is up there with a security clearance questionnaire.)

    1. GOPCrusher

      The Republiklans want to do away with the Census too. Probably won't think it such a good idea if, after the 2020 Census, all the states that have voted red in the past suddenly have 1 electorial vote due to redistricting based on a hunch.

  19. actor212

    Actually, there's a sinister plot at work here.

    The Constitution specifies that taxes cannot be levied willy-nilly, that is, they have to be tied to some proportionate evaluation (which is why we have an income tax and was the basis of its legality) and not arbitrarily imposed.

    By getting rid of this survey, the argument can be made that we now have a Constitutional mandate to cut income taxes; since Federal spending can no longer be allocated proportionately, we can no longer ask people to pay for those services.

  20. elviouslyqueer

    famous RedState/CNN thundershit Erick Erickson went on his radio show (they all have radio shows) and explained that if an ACS representative came to his house reminding him to fill out the survey, he would take his wife’s shotgun and “and see how that little ACS twerp likes being scared at the door.”

    Oh please, this is such bullshit. The only "wife" Ewick has ever had is his power-bottoming poolboy Lars.

  21. Callyson

    The ACS is a mandatory survey with 48 questions that a few hundred thousand people are chosen to fill out each month.

    Oh, so *that's* what that thing is that has been sitting on my shelf because I had no time to do it and figured it did not matter. But you tell me the wingnuts don't like it now?

    (Rushing to shelf to fill it out and send it in…)

  22. Chichikovovich

    it would seem that these questions hardly fit the scope of what was intended or required by the Constitution.

    F'rcryingoutloud. The Constitution says the government is supposed to take a Census. If you like you can count this survey as part of it. Ah, the founders didn't envision these specific questions, you say? Well, when they said you have a right to bear arms they were talking about muskets too. Weaponry has evolved, so have census needs and techniques.

    But if you're OK with only protecting the possession of weapons invented before 1787, I'm sure we can work something out about this survey.

  23. ttommyunger

    Well, they've pretty well taken care of the dick, the twat and the asshole. What next, a war against the taint?

  24. C_R_Eature

    Here it is, yet another example of Republican's using the deficit as a cover to destroy things they don't Ideologically agree with. I think the most egregious example is the bill to cut funding to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's
    Climate Change Education and Outreach efforts.

    Of course, the amendment was sponsored by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Club For Growth) who "Represents" the 1st District of Maryland, including Maryland's Eastern Shore – an area that's so vulnerable to climate change related disasters it's not at all funny.

    Can someone out there explain to me exactly how a freshman congressman with a background as an anesthesiologist gets to be put in charge of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, anyway?

    Yes, it's a rhetorical question.

    Fuck these People.

    I need Music. Now. Before I go Mad.

    1. Chichikovovich

      Andy Harris (R – Potterville) : I remember that guy. He's the one who howled about not getting that sweet, socialized government health insurance on the very first day he arrived on the job.

      1. C_R_Eature

        Yes, he's the one. Ran for Congress by railing against "Obamacare" and touting his experience as a Medical Professional and immediately demonstrated that he had no idea what he was talking about. Not that it matters at all to his party, as incompetence and ideological rigidity are features, not bugs.
        Used to run amok in the Maryland state legislature and be not-at-all liked. After he was elected to Congress, one of his State colleagues chuckled, anonymously, "Well, he's your problem now."

      2. HistoriCat

        First day? Hell – he wanted to know why there was no option to buy into coverage ahead of his first day.

    2. GOPCrusher

      Isn't Maryland one of those states that can be affected by hurricanes that NOAA keeps an eye out for?

      1. C_R_Eature

        Yes, and Isabel kicked the shit out of us. Of course, with NOAA's advanced satellite imagery, weather monitor network and storm surge prediction modeling the loss of life was minimal, though property damage was great. But, all that's free from the Government and, like, Socialism and therefore Bad.

  25. Callyson

    famous RedState/CNN thundershit Erick Erickson…explained that if an ACS representative came to his house reminding him to fill out the survey, he would take his wife’s shotgun

    So, *she* was the one with the gun then? That would explain a lot about Erick Son of Erick…

  26. poorgradstudent

    First they wanted to keep us behind the rest of the industrialized world, then they kept trying to drag our whole society back to the 1600s, and now they want to make our government less efficient and advanced than that of the Roman Empire?

  27. Callyson

    “We need to ask ourselves whether this Congress is worth $2.4 billion”

    /fixed

  28. TootsStansbury

    But Democrats do watch Republicans poop. They do it right in public; out of their mouths. We don't want to see this but there it is. Everywhere.

  29. MissTaken

    It was an after work party in the office and the ladies room was closed for cleaning. After three rounds of flip cup my coworker stood watch while I used the mens room.

    I then allowed the guys to go into the ladies room to have a pillow-fight with the topless high school cheerleader that we keep in there at all times. Us ladies *love* topless pillow-fights!

  30. HistGuy

    Tell Republicans the questions are related to ending abortion. They'll be good with that.

  31. qwerty42

    …They say it’s “Orwellian.”…
    But torture is a family value and unprovoked wars are just great. And taking stuff from the poors is what jeebus would do if he really thought about it.

  32. sbj1964

    Just another day between the Womb,and the Tomb for the GOP.Really the poop police?

  33. Negropolis

    As a statistics and demographic geek, and particularly the ACS and the American Factfinder, when it comes to the Census Bureau, this really makes me angry. Hell, as fast as some of our cities change, I've advocated for a basic, mid-decade census like up in Canada, with the only detailed censuses at the beginning and end of the decade.

    They already took the long-form Census, away, to save money…or so they say. Now, they are taking away its only replacement…which in an of itself was pretty bad but it was something. BTW, the ACS does not ask nearly as invasive of questions as the old Census' used to ask. It mostly just asks economic questions, nothing about indoor plumbing, anymore.

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