President Obama Preaches Census Participation

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:

With the 2010 census fast approaching next month, President Obama is urging Americans to participate in the government’s once-a-decade attempt to paint a portrait of the country’s population .

“Every ten years, our Constitution requires the federal government to conduct a census,” President Obama says in the 30-second ad that will be sent Friday television and radio stations nationwide. “This helps determine your representation in Congress, as well as how federal funds are spent on things like schools and roads and where businesses decide to put new stores and factories.”

“So when you get your census form in mid-March,” the President says, “take about 10 minutes to answer 10 questions – remembering to include everyone in your household. Because we can’t move forward until you mail it back.”

Watch the ad here.

The message from the White House is the continuation of a tradition dating back to 1790, the Bureau notes. All presidents serving during a census – dating back to President William Howard Taft – have issued messages on or before Census Day, which falls on April 1.

In 2000, President Bill Clinton emphasized the performance of the decennial event.

“Behind all those numbers are real lives and real life stories,” Clinton said. “And when you put them all together you see the patterns emerge. This is a profoundly important issue if we want to make good decisions about where we’re going. We first have to know exactly who we are.”

One decade earlier President George H. W. Bush stated in his announcement, “One of the ways our Constitution preserves our rights is to require the government to conduct a census every 10 years. It helps determine how you’re represented in Congress and what kinds of government services you find in your community. So be a part of this great democracy – answer the census. It counts for more than you think.”

The current census is set to cost around $14.7 billion. The Bureau is already well underway with a $133 million advertising blitz, including a nationwide road tour to boost awareness about the coming government count.

Participation in the census is crucial for the government, since the Bureau saves around $80 million for every one percent increase in the number of people who mail back their completed forms.

-Matthew Jaffe

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