EASLEY – A proposal to reduce U.S. Census surveys is “100 percent constituent driven” and aimed at reducing invasiveness to families, U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan said last week.
Duncan, who represents several counties in the Upstate including Pickens and Anderson, was in Easley to introduce colleague Tim Scott, recently appointed U.S. senator for South Carolina.
A verbal battle developed a few days before Duncan’s visit when had proposed the legislation. Opponents questioned the wisdom of eliminating the data collection because a wide array of economic data like the nation’s unemployment rate and funding decision currently rely on the numbers.
Duncan said the idea for the legislation developed from constituent calls to his congressional office asking to get a waiver from the survey for American Community Survey’s
“They literally came by the dozens,” said Duncan spokesman Allen Klump. “They were concerned about questions like when their children were home alone. They were also under the threat of a fine of up to $5,000 for failing to answer the survey.”
Klump said he did not know whether anyone had been assessed the $5,000.
“The other thing is that they (the survey recipient) would get repeated calls and letters and said that it turned into what seemed like to them was harassment,” Klump said.
Duncan said he believes the government’s census information gathering should be limited strictly to the household headcount mandated in the constitution.
“The private sector might provide some of the other information,” Duncan said. That information might include numbers to analyze economic status of the nation.
Duncan said he did not know whether the private sector could find a way to produce independent studies for economic analysis.
“None of this is written in stone,” Duncan said. The details will be worked out over time.”
Duncan’s legislation would eliminate these surveys and encourage a less invasive method of information gathering. “These surveys amount to legalized government harassment,” said Duncan. “Right now the Census Bureau can ask citizens very invasive questions, and if they don’t respond, the government shows up at their door and threatens them with a fine. Americans are fed up with these mandatory census surveys and they’re asking us to stop the harassment.”