Census Bureau Under White House Information Umbrella

On Wednesday, MSNBC’s Al Sharpton scoffed at the latest allegations that the White House is trying to cook the books on ObamaCare numbers by changing the Census questions.

I previously posted on this in a post entitled, “Another Republican Claim Proven Right — Census Bureau.” Much to the Party Line chagrin of not so sharp Sharpton, when a respected centrist wonk like Megan McArdle is cracking open her thesaurus to describe her alarm and disgust over the changes — and thus the baseline — in the Census Bereua’s matrix, you know the fit is hitting the shan! Here is HotAir’s post:

….For several months now, whenever the topic of enrollment in the Affordable Care Act came up, I’ve been saying that it was too soon to tell its ultimate effects. We don’t know how many people have paid for their new insurance policies, or how many of those who bought policies were previously uninsured. For that, I said, we will have to wait for Census Bureau data, which offer the best assessment of the insurance status of the whole population. Other surveys are available, but the samples are smaller, so they’re not as good; the census is the gold standard. Unfortunately, as I invariably noted, these data won’t be available until 2015. I stand corrected: These data won’t be available at all. Ever.

Why?  Because as the New York Times reported, the Census Bureau has decided to throw out its 30-year formula (and therefore its baseline) on measuring America’s uninsured population, and replace it with a new methodology.  The revised math, according to Census officials, will result in much sunnier-looking results.  Independent of the statistical merits of this change, the timing, quite literally, could not be worse.  McArdle is aghast:

I’m speechless. Shocked. Stunned. Horrified. Befuddled. Aghast, appalled, thunderstruck, perplexed, baffled, bewildered and dumbfounded. It’s not that I am opposed to the changes: Everyone understands that the census reports probably overstate the true number of the uninsured, because the number they report is supposed to be “people who lacked insurance for the entire previous year,” but people tend to answer with their insurance status right now. But why, dear God, oh, why, would you change it in the one year in the entire history of the republic that it is most important for policy makers, researchers and voters to be able to compare the number of uninsured to those in prior years? The answers would seem to range from “total incompetence on the part of every level of this administration” to something worse.

She affirms that she does mean every level of the administration, citing this passage in the Times piece:

The White House is always looking for evidence to show the benefits of the health law, which is an issue in many of this year’s midterm elections. The Department of Health and Human Services and the White House Council of Economic Advisers requested several of the new questions, and the White House Office of Management and Budget approved the new questionnaire. 

This tectonic shift was requested and approved by the White House…

 …read it all…