Let Post Office, Not ACORN, Take Census?

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," June 24, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, GUEST HOST: It's hard to have a vote of confidence in the 2010 census when controversial groups like ACORN are recruiting headhunters.

But a freshman lawmaker says he's found a way to put confidence back into the census count while also helping our postal service dig its way out of a budget deficit.

Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz is here with his solution. Congressman, welcome here.

Video: Watch the segment


NAPOLITANO: So, what should the post office do that the census people shouldn't?

CHAFFETZ: Well, the Census Bureau has been given some $11 billion to conduct the census on April 1st of 2010. The problem that I have with it is that they're partnering with nefarious organizations — like ACORN — in order to hire 750,000 people to go out and do this counting.

Now, at the same time, we have a postal service with 760,000 employees who is a trusted entity, who already is charged with going door-to-door to every home in America.

So, it just seems to me that we already have a federal workforce in place. They are a trusted organization. And I do not trust ACORN, do not want them to be part of the process. I'd much rather have the postal service execute on this.

NAPOLITANO: All right. The postal service loses about $2 billion to $3 billion every quarter. So, the taxpayers subsidize the post office. Does it help them, or does it cost us more money when they have more work to do?

CHAFFETZ: Well, the post office has been losing money. We actually haven't appropriated federal money since the early 1980s. But this year, they're totally upside-down financially.

So, here we're going to be spending over $11 billion. We might as well be spending that on an organization that we're going to continue to have in place, who doesn't have the nefarious background that ACORN and the others have, and we have can a have a postal holiday, not deliver the mail on the Census Day.


CHAFFETZ: And have these postal workers go out and do the enumeration that needs to be done to fulfill our constitutional duty of a census.

NAPOLITANO: How would the government, how would the Obama administration, Congressman, possibly think that it could get away with hiring a group like ACORN? After all we've been through, after all the fraud, proven and alleged, after all the indictments, after all the charges, after all the wasted money, we would entrust the census, which determines how many members of the House of Representatives each state gets, to a group like this.

Does the White House really think the public would stand for something like that?

CHAFFETZ: Well, I think this is a common sense business approach. I hope that it's met with open arms. I've worked the unions there at the postal service. I've talked to the postmaster general. I want to talk to the White House and my Democratic colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

But we're going to be — the census is so important because it's the makeup of the United States Congress and the federal government also hands out about $300 billion as a direct result each year on what the census numbers show. So, it is critically imperative that we have the trust and confidence of the American people when we go out and collect this data.

NAPOLITANO: All right. So, under your proposal, would the postman or postwoman simply knock on your door and say, how many people live in this house, or would they give you that four or five or 10 or 20-page form and ask you how many showers you have and how many bathrooms and what the educational level and income level is of the people living there, and how many times you go to church during the week?


CHAFFETZ: It's not as comprehensive as the one you just articulated. It's the basic information about the age, the number of members in that household, the race, when they were born, so we can better understand what's happening within the population as a whole.

So, it's actually a fairly quick form, but, you know, if there are multiple members of your family, it's intended to be finding out what each and every member, how old they are, and what race and background they are.

NAPOLITANO: Right. I got to tell you, I hope this passes, because it's going to save us a lot of money, and for all of its faults in the post office, it's certainly a lot more honest than ACORN.

CHAFFETZ: Exactly.

NAPOLITANO: But when people ask me what the law is, what do they have to tell the census taker, I'll tell them, simply this: How many people live in that house and nothing else. It's none of the government's business when they were born, what their race or what they earn.

Good luck with this, Congressman. Thanks for joining us.

CHAFFETZ: Thank you, Judge. Thank you.

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