Census Survey Program to Be Cut

Dean Baker reports that the Bush administration is proposing to cut the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). Why? Presumably it’s not just because of the money—the extremely valuable data-gathering program only costs about $40 million a year, or about six hours worth of the Iraq war. Or perhaps it’s, as Baker suggests, because the White House wants “to reduce the flow of bad economic news.”

Either way, it’s a bad idea. Back in the early 1990s, conservatives used to talk about how they would subject every liberal social program out there to a rigorous evaluation, to see if actually worked or not. But it’s kind of hard to do that if there isn’t any actual data. On the other hand, it’s also a lot harder to judge the Bush administration if there isn’t any actual data to use. Which seems to fit in the general trend here.