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Count Rep. Michele Bachmann as unwilling to be counted in the census

You’d think that after all the endless election hullabaloo over Minnesota trying to fill its second senatorial seat, the North Star State would be sick of counting quibbles.

You’d be wrong.

It turns out that the prospect of trying to count Minnesota’s population in the 2010 Census has turned into a political issue, with Rep. Michele Bachmann standing firm on her stance that she won’t fill out the entire census form.

The reason? The Republican lawmaker says the form violates the public’s constitutionally protected right to privacy. She has said, time and again, that the U.S. Constitution requires her to give the Census Bureau little more than the number of people in her household. Republican representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota

“A lot of Americans -- myself included -- have real concerns about the ultimate protection of our sensitive personal information,” Bachmann said in a statement issued earlier this month.

OK. That seems reasonable. But in an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune last month, the paper quoted the lawmaker as saying she was “not encouraging Americans not to fill out the census.”

OK. Now that’s a bit wacky.

Now, let’s put this into perspective. Bachmann has a loooooooong history of making people gasp when she opens her mouth.

It was Bachmann, after all, who appeared on MSNBC’s “Hardball With Chris Matthews” last fall and made a million-dollar mistake:

She alleged that presidential candidate Barack Obama may hold “anti-American” views, and proposed a media investigation into “the views of the people in Congress [to] find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?” (Her rival reaped more than $1 million in donations in less than 72 hours -- but still lost the election.)

But in Washington, as well as in the land of Minnesota nice, Bachmann’s unwavering stance against completing the entire census form -- and not just the parts she wants to fill out -- has folks fuming.

Three of her fellow GOP lawmakers -- Reps. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, John Mica from Florida and Patrick McHenry of North Carolina -- have slammed Bachmann for her stance, saying in a statement that her boycott is illogical and illegal.

And Sen. Amy Klobuchar is stepping forward to urge Minnesotans to fill out the form. The Democrat pointed out that Minnesota could potentially lose a congressional seat if the census results are inaccurately low.

“It’s important that every Minnesotan is counted, so we get our fair share of congressional seats and federal funding,” Klobuchar said in a statement.

Bachmann isn’t swayed. Instead, she’s cosponsored a bill (HR-3131) that would make filling out the census form a voluntary act and only require four tidbits of data: name, date, contact information and the number of people living or staying at the same address.

Given how hard-hit state budgets have been this year by the recession, and how desperate lawmakers are to funnel federal aid back home, good luck getting folks on board with this one.

-- P.J. Huffstutter

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Photo: Bachmann at the Republican National Convention in 2008. Credit: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (6)

The comments to this entry are closed.

I have to quibble with one minor point. I don't think Bachman's comments on Hardball was a "million dollar mistake". She managed to suck a million bucks out of liberal pockets into a losing cause. Sounds like a major success to me.

I feel that the author of this blog may be a bit wacky; But, it is very sensible for the Senator to not 'insite' controversy by advocating people to stand up against the Mob organization some call A.C.O.R.N. though I hear they wanna change their name now to avoid the bad name they made for their own organization.

Despite the author's obvious bias against all things Democrat. I think that the Senator is right and I plan on telling A.C.O.R.N. where they can take their Census if they ask for more than how many people live in this household. However, I do actually ask others to do the same if you are sick and tired of the Government's seemingly endless meddling in how individual citizens live their life.

Good for Rep. Michele Bachmann she got a great point!!!

I worked on the help desk on the 2010 census, and while I'm reluctant to go into detail i was appauled by
the behavior and class of people that were randomly
select to the census posts in my area. I found that
the recruiting system was grossly misused etc.

Michele Bachmann has advocated an illegal and stupid course of action. The Constitution requires answering the Census and all questions "As Congress may direct". Every question on the long form (American Community Survey) has a purpose: To enable legislation WHICH CONGRESS PASSED. The questions are for the purpose of determining where federal tax dollars are being spent. Questions on commute time, for example, help to determine where roads are to be built (Where do you think we get such things as "LA has the 2nd longest commute time in the US?). Questions on mental health issues help determine where mental health facilities are to be built. Etc, etc.

The irony is that Minnesota will probably lose a congressional seat after the next Census. Many in Minnesota hope that it will be hers.

This is the same Representative who thinks we should be "armed and dangerous", who thinks our elected officials are "anti-American" in their views, who believes we have re-education camps (AmeriCorps!), etc. It is too bad that, evidently, intelligence is not a prerequisit for election.

Rev Chris Miller

The writer of this blog entry has misstated the facts. Rep. Bachmann is quite willing to be counted and to fill out the portion of the Census questionnaire which the Constitution requires, but NOT to submit to an unconstitutional invasion of her home and person in violation of the Bill of Rights Amendment Four.

Rev Chris Miller, you are mistaken, the Constitution Article I section 2 only calls for a simple enumeration every ten years! It does NOT allow the kind of intrusive questions in the ACS questionnaire, which is sent YEARLY to portions of the population. It is unconstitutional for the federal government to so violate privacy without a warrant. On this one issue, Bachmann happens to be correct.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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