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Public Statements

Census Bureau Economic Questionnaire

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. POSEY. Mr. Speaker, generally, we believe that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. That's why I was a little bit shocked when it was brought to my attention by a number of my colleagues that they received an economic census in the mail--a very complex, 14-page document asking them in very great detail about their business, about their suppliers, about their cost, about who they sell to, and who their customers are. These were received by mom-and-pop businesses, sometimes just mom businesses, no pop--one-person businesses. One said:

It will take me two days to fill out this questionnaire. I have to work. If I don't work 2 days, my business will go down the drain.

I wondered how important this information was, so I wrote a letter to the Department of Commerce and the Census Bureau to ask just a few questions about it. I asked about their constitutional authority to do that, and they gave me their statutory authority. I'll talk about their letter in a minute. Then, while they didn't have time to answer my letter on a timely basis, they did have time to send another relatively harassing letter to the businesses threatening them with more penalties--a fine--and just scared the daylights out of them if they did not take time to return that form.

I finally got my response from them, and what I found was that they didn't answer all my questions. I asked them:

Please provide me with the information describing the universe the economic census questionnaires were mailed to and how they were selected.

No answer.

One constituent who received a questionnaire was a sole proprietor with no other employees; another was a sole proprietor with two employees.

Please provide me a summary, if you have one, as to how many of the businesses to which economic censuses were mailed were sole proprietors or small businesses or corporations? How many would you consider to be large corporations? Were there any Fortune 500 companies?

They didn't tell me.

Please tell me how many Federal employees from your agencies were involved in the development and execution of the economic census. Do you not need to count Postal Service time while delivering or returning the forms?

No answer.

Please provide me with the names of any Federal employees associated with the development of the economic census that have ever owned or operated any business whatsoever in the private sector.

They did not answer.

Please provide me with the identity of any Federal agency which has ever provided the kind of detailed financial information and operating information to citizens that you've requested from the people you are supposed to serve.

No answer.

The cost of completing the questionnaire will be costly for small business. How much do you anticipate the cost of labor will be to a business to comply with your request to complete the questionnaire?

No answer.

Please advise how the information gleaned from these questionnaires will be used.

They gave me some generalizations.

Please explain the benefit you anticipate the public will gain from the questionnaire.

Well, sort of. They said it would help them look at statistics.

Please provide me with a one-page summary of major activities performed by your agencies. Please cite the number of times you perform each activity and the cost of performing each activity on a unit cost basis. The aggregate cost of all performing activity should be equal to the exact amount of money that was passed through your agencies during a 1-year period.

Of course, they did not answer that.

They have no problem demanding that information from the private sector, but the government sector is completely unwilling to go through the least little amount of trouble to provide Congress with that same information.

We are often thought to believe that what's good for the goose is good for the gander, and so I will persist on trying to get answers to those questions for the constituents in my district, and hopefully for those in your districts that have also been interested.


Mr. POSEY. Mr. Speaker, I would also like to say I am pleased to be here today and joined by Resident Commissioner Pierluisi in support of a bill awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Puerto Rico's 65th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Borinqueneers.

When the Korean war erupted in 1950, the soldiers of the regiment served in a segregated unit, despite President Truman's order desegregating the military 2 years earlier.

Army commanders doubted the effectiveness of these Puerto Rican troops, calling them ``rum and Coca-Cola soldiers.'' They were required to use separate showering facilities and ordered under penalty of court-martial not to speak Spanish. They were even told to shave their mustaches until ``they gave proof of their manhood.''

Despite this adversity, the Regiment embraced their Hispanic heritage, calling themselves ``Borinqueneers'' after the Taino word for Puerto Rico.

The Regiment served with distinction during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in December 1950. Fighting alongside the 1st Marine Division, they covered one of the greatest strategic withdrawals in military history. Fighting in temperatures as low as Negative 37 degrees, the Borinqueneers were among the last defenders of Hungham harbor, and suffered tremendous casualties during the evacuation.

The Regiment later participated in numerous battles, conducting the last recorded battalion-size bayonet charge in Army history. Though they struggled with a grave shortage of trained non-commissioned officers and personnel policies that pushed it to the breaking point, they overcame these challenges, fighting valiantly, and earning the respect and admiration of their commanders.

The Borinqueneers are part of a proud tradition of service in the face of adversity that includes the Tuskegee Airmen, Montford Point Marines, Navajo Code Talkers and the Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team--all of whom have already received the Congressional Gold Medal.

I therefore rise in support of the Borinqueneers--the Forgotten soldiers of a Forgotten war--and urge all of my colleagues to join us by cosponsoring this legislation to ensure that the Borinqueneers receive their long overdue recognition.

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