February 13, 2009

IMAGINE IF W HAD POLITICIZED THE CENSUS:

Gregg Was a Square Peg as Commerce Nominee (Jonathan Allen, 2/13/09, CQ)

Gregg played down the significance of a partisan scrap over the Census Bureau as a factor in his decision.

“The census was only a slight catalyzing issue,” he said. “It was not a major issue.”

But his past record on census matters — and a White House plan to deal directly with the census director — kicked up a political maelstrom around Gregg. And it may have just been the tip of the iceberg.

The day his nomination was announced last week, the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Association of Latino Elected Officials raised concerns about Gregg’s fight with Clinton over census funding when he was chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Commerce Department and his votes in favor of a GOP budget that aimed to abolish the department.

A senior White House official told Congressional Quarterly the next day that the census director would report to the West Wing — a policy later clarified as a plan for the census director to “work closely with” senior White House aides.

Republicans cried foul, accusing Democrats of politicizing the national head count by putting it in the hands of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel , an expert in district-level electoral politics.

At that point, there was no solution to the problem that wouldn’t find either Gregg or Obama ceding valuable partisan political turf, an outcome counter to the bipartisanship demonstrated in Obama’s choice of the Republican Gregg.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 13, 2009 7:55 AM
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