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Member Questions of the Week of March 15, 2010

Sandra Bivens from Holmen, WI asks, What Census questions are citizens required to answer by law? OUR ANSWER: Unfortunately, the 2010 Census form dedicates nearly a quarter of its questionnaire to questions pertaining to racial or ethnic identity. Heritage legal scholar Hans von Spakovsky explains that these intrusive and unnecessary racial and ethnic questions will be used to, continue to separate us on racial grounds, for reapportionment purposes and for certain government programs. However, he also points out that if you don’t complete a Census form you will be in violation of federal law and subject to a fine and prosecution (a remote possibility). A common sense solution, according to von Spakovsky, to this controversial collection of racial and ethnic information is to quite simply prohibit the Census Bureau from collecting such information, and to make all government programs explicitly race neutral. Read his full┬áblog post on the subject here.

Edwin Burkhead from East Peoria, IL asks, Is there a modern book equivalent to the 1978 book The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear by Petr Beckmann with current information on safety of nuclear power? OUR ANSWER: To learn more about the advantages of nuclear power we suggest former nuclear energy opponent, Gwyneth Cravens Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy and William Tuckers Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Energy Will Lead the Green Revolution and End Americas Energy Odyssey. Further, Heritages nuclear energy expert, Jack Spencer, has explained that today’s nuclear reactors are safe , and he also dispels some popular myths about nuclear energy here. Unfortunately, as Spencer points out, President Obama’s encouraging rhetoric about nuclear energy has been inconsistent with his policies, since his actions so far have undermined nuclear energy progress.

Darin Cox from Camp Hill, PA asks,
Who developed the reconciliation procedure in the Senate, and for what has the GOP actually used it? OUR ANSWER: The origin of the┬áreconciliation process can be traced to the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, in which its primary function was to reduce budget deficits. Reconciliation allows for Congress to expedite the consideration of proposals by circumventing a filibuster because it only requires a simple majority for passage (instead of the usual 60 votes). Since Jimmy Carters tenure, reconciliation measures have been enacted into law 19 times, generally with bi-partisan support. Mike Franc, The Heritage Foundations Vice President of Government Relations, writes that the reconciliation process does not demonstrate a partisan pattern, and that, it takes two branches to tango Congress and the President. However, as Franc explains, on a few occasions reconciliation has been a controversial and consequential process. But in this particular instance, President Obama’s use of reconciliation for his health care bill without any bi-partisan support is entirely unprecedented and also a violation of our First Principles.

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