Mr. POE of Texas. Madam Speaker, Linda Roberts from Kingwood, Texas, is one of my constituents. She received the American Community Survey and filled out only the information required by the Census Bureau and mailed it back to the Census Bureau.
Let me make this clear. The census every ten years counts the population with the census forms. But the Census Bureau also sends out a longer, larger, more intensive document called the American Community Survey to many Americans throughout the 10 years of the census.
Linda Roberts received this long form, the American Community Survey, and she did not fill out the survey. Later, she began to receive weekly calls from the Census Bureau telling her to complete the entire survey. When she refused to complete the survey, the calls increased from every week to multiple times each day. Now, this is a single mother working, trying to support her family, and she's being harassed by the Federal Government.
Finally, a Census Bureau employee showed up at her house, ringing her doorbell, and peeking through her windows to see if she was inside, trying to get her to come to the door to fill out this long survey by the Census Bureau.
The harassment didn't stop. On many occasions, Linda would come home from work and there would be a car from the Federal Government parked out there in front of her house trying to catch her as she went into her home to get her to fill out the American Community Survey. These are people from the Federal Government.
Mrs. Roberts explained that she not only felt uncomfortable providing the detailed information to the Federal Government, but she was afraid. No kidding.
Now, where, Madam Speaker, in the Constitution does it give the Federal Government the authority to do this? The Constitution does not authorize Peeking TomCrats to come from the Federal Government to snoop around our homes and get information from citizens.
Here's what she said:
Please do something about getting the Census Bureau to stop the harassment phone calls concerning the American Community Survey.
I've also received calls from other people. George from Baytown, Texas, says he refused to fill out the American Community Survey so he started getting phone calls from all over the country from different area codes. He just regarded them as identity theft phishing scams, and so he didn't answer any of those calls.
Madam Speaker, George and Linda are just two of the many people who have contacted my office about the intrusive American Community Survey from the Federal Government demanding people fill this out. Once again, this is not the census questionnaire; this is the Census Bureau giving another questionnaire to the American public and expecting them, by law, to fill this out.
The questions are about 48 questions long. Here are some of the questions:
Do you have a flush toilet in your house?
What time do you go to work in the morning?
What time do you come home in the afternoon?
How much money do you make?
How much money does your spouse make?
Do you have a second mortgage on another home?
Where is that home?
Here is a good one:
Because of a physical mental, or emotional condition, does someone in the household have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions?
Now, isn't that lovely. The survey wants us to comment on the mental health of people that live in the house. I'm glad my wife didn't get this survey and fill it out talking about me.
Madam Speaker, the government has no business asking these personal questions. It infringes on the right of privacy of the American public. People are upset about this because they are forced to provide this information to Uncle Sam or pay a sanction of a $5,000 fine. Government intimidation at its worst.
Yes, there may be some benefits. The government says we use this information so we can help businesses plan whether to put a store on this corner or that corner. That's fine, but the Constitution doesn't authorize this, in my opinion. So if the businesses want that information, let them pay for it. Go to a polling system.
So I think what we should do, Madam Speaker, is make this form voluntary. If people want to fill it out and give the Federal Government all this information, great, but they shouldn't be required to.
I've introduced legislation and Rand Paul in the Senate has introduced legislation to make the American Community Survey voluntary. People shouldn't be required to fill it out.
What's next? Is the government going to start asking us how many guns we've got in our home? what kind of cars we drive, whether they're green cars or whether we're driving pickup trucks? Where's it going to stop? The American Community Survey should be voluntary. Americans should not be required to fill it out, and we need to change the law to make it voluntary for the American public because freedom still means something in America. Keep the snoopers from Uncle Sam out of our lives.
And that's just the way it is.