Trump’s Attack on the Census

Statistical analysis–MATH–is under attack today. Not content to only deny science, Trump has shown his disdain for the purest form of logic. The U.S. Census is the beginning of a great highway of information. Federal data is the fuel that goes into the gas tank and data and math are its main ingredients.


Government agencies continually analyze the population and distribution of individuals across our country to make policy that works for the American public. Mathematicians crunch numbers for the Departments of Justice, Labor, Transportation, Energy, Agriculture, Education, Health, and Consumer Protection.

Under the GOP’s FY2017 budget, math does not appear to be a random sacrifice. Denying funds for statistics is every bit as nefarious as hiding the truth. Alternate facts are so much easier to promote. Trump’s proposed FY2018 budget denies even more.


After each government agency publishes its data, the vehicles can then fuel up. With their tanks full, the public sector can begin to design, evaluate and improve policies on local, national and international scales. Public corporations and investors rely on this data to make decisions about housing, health, education, transportation, and economic development, among other things.

Such policies help businesses and investors support programs that improve all our lives.


The Association of Public Data Users is a coalition of statisticians, including corporations, investors, academicians and individuals. They are the drivers of our economic engines. These drivers–our public number crunchers–have been denied the best fuel.

In a letter to members of the powerful appropriations committees, Ken Poole, Executive Director of APDU, explains how math is important.

    “Our Federal statistical and data systems provide information that is uniquely accurate, objective, relevant, timely and accessible. America’s families, firms and policymakers are able to make informed decisions because they have open access to this unbiased high-quality information.”

Poole points to two entities that take advantage of the federal data.

    “FedEx depends on timely and consistent data from across government agencies,” Tim Mullaly, Chief Economist, FedEx.

    “The Greater Houston Partnership relies heavily on Federal data to support our mission of making the region “a better place to live, work and build a business,” Patrick Jankowski, Senior Vice President, Research and Regional Economist.


“Federal data,” says Poole, “enable the private sector by helping employers.” This data informs decisions on worker education, location of workers, prevailing wages, and the projection of future worker needs.

APDU’s “Friends of BLS*” combine their own big-data with the raw and statistically analyzed Federal information to help corporations make business decisions that drive profits. (*Bureau of Labor Statistics)

All of this is under siege from the Trump administration’s myopic “starve the beast” mentality. The number crunchers are getting cut.


The U.S. Census normally occurs in a process that “ramps up” at least three years before the decennial. Partisan gridlock began affecting U.S. Census funding under Obama. Now, the Government Accountability Office has labeled the 2020 Census a “high risk” program.

Contributing to the high risk status is Trump’s hard line on immigration. ICE Agents are deporting people with traffic tickets and waiting outside courthouses to cuff immigrant victims of domestic violence. Jeff Sessions revival of the failed “War on Drugs” continues to target minority groups disproportionately. The fear instilled in our nation’s minority and immigrant communities threatens to cripple Census efforts.

Additionally, Americans may be asked to respond to an online Census survey due to be launched in FY2018. Where an underfunded government agency is forced to provide cheaper internet-based solutions, these users may become targets of hackers. When the poor, immigrants, minorities and others fearful of government authorities fail to fill out the online forms, few Census workers will be trained to knock on doors.


The U.S. Census, with its Constitutional directive to count every person in the United States, is under attack.

Apportionment, redistricting, voting rights and civil rights–all primary objectives of a successful Census–underpin economic prosperity and the road to a politically stable future.

If Trump fails to get an accurate Census in 2020, he will tarnish the premier value of the U.S. Democratic Census and foul the tank of Census data for a decade.

“‘That’s the gold standard,’ said Ken Fears, an economist at the National Association of Realtors, which produces a monthly housing report that uses census data for its baseline. ‘If the gold standard becomes silver, you have a problem.'”


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20130328 Washington Post 2020 Census will be done by Internet
20170409 Politico Trump’s Threat to the 2020 Census
20170316 APDU President’s Budget Overview for Public Data
20170208 APDU Help Support Federal Data (Ken Poole’s letter), and
Wikipedia: United States Census
20170508 Census Attack
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© Copyright 2016 LawrenceJHolbrook.US. All rights reserved.

The above article is an opinion piece. If you wish to express an opinion about my opinion, please consider writing in a thoughtful way that can promote discussion on an issue.

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1 Response to Trump’s Attack on the Census

  1. mooninfog says:

    Larry, nice job explaining this issue, thank you.
    — Debra (from Indivisible Hawaii)

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