It was not to be. A week and a half later, Gregg withdrew his nomination. A statement from Robert Gibbs, then White House press secretary, blamed the ex-nominee: "Senator Gregg reached out to the President and offered his name for Secretary of Commerce. He was very clear throughout the interviewing process that despite past disagreements about policies, he would support, embrace, and move forward with the President's agenda. Once it became clear after his nomination that Senator Gregg was not going to be supporting some of President Obama's key economic priorities, it became necessary for Senator Gregg and the Obama administration to part ways."
But Gregg had a different take on the disagreement, as the Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe reported:
Sen. Judd Gregg said today [Feb. 12] that his decision to withdraw from consideration for commerce secretary was due in part to his concern with the Obama administration's decision to have the next Census director report to senior White House staffers as well as the commerce secretary.
The senator's withdrawal statement described the disagreement about the census as "irresolvable." He later backtracked somewhat, saying at a news conference that "the census was only a slight catalyzing issue. It was not a major issue." But as O'Keefe observed, "the issue has become a rallying cry of congressional Republicans."
Gregg served out his Senate term retiring after the 2010 election, when another Republican, Kelly Ayotte, was elected as his successor. The Democrats eventually got their 60th senator: In April, Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter switched parties, and in July, Minnesota's Al Franken was seated after a prolonged recount. The Democratic supermajority lasted only seven months, until Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown was seated after winning a special election occasioned by Ted Kennedy's death. That was long enough to push ObamaCare through over united Republican opposition.
Now ObamaCare is providing evidence that Gregg was right to worry about politicization of the census. As the New York Times reports:
The Census Bureau, the authoritative source of health insurance data for more than three decades, is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama's health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.
The changes are intended to improve the accuracy of the survey, being conducted this month in interviews with tens of thousands of households around the country. But the new questions are so different that the findings will not be comparable, the officials said.
An internal Census Bureau document said that the new questionnaire included a "total revision to health insurance questions" and, in a test last year, produced lower estimates of the uninsured. Thus, officials said, it will be difficult to say how much of any change is attributable to the Affordable Care Act and how much to the use of a new survey instrument.
"We are expecting much lower numbers just because of the questions and how they are asked," said Brett J. O'Hara, chief of the health statistics branch at the Census Bureau.(Click link below to read more)
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