THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Houston, Texas) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release June 2, 1998
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEPUTY SECRETARY OF COMMERCE MALLETT AND DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY JOE LOCKHART
Magnolia Multi-Service Center Houston, Texas
2:03 P.M. CDT
Q Remember that guy with the Dracula theory? You can't take a sample of blood, of course, to represent the whole body of blood, and equate it with the sampling theory.
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: No, Mr. Donaldson, I think the point, though, is well taken. The President was trying to say, how do we explain to ordinary Americans the importance of this. And what the gentleman said is that you can tell people as a way of understanding what we mean, is that when you go do the doctor, the doctor takes a sample of your blood, he doesn't take all of your blood. But from that sample, he can tell an extraordinary number of things about you. And I think he was just trying to draw that parallel.
Q All the rest of the blood is exactly like the sample. (Laughter.)
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Okay. It was an example, I think the gentleman tried to use to sort of --
Q I'm not making fun of the Dracula theory.
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Well, Charlie Shultz, one of the experts on this, has used that as a description sometimes because he says it helps people.
Q I have a serious question, although I hate to interrupt this line of questioning. So there are these two lawsuits against sampling, and could you just tell us where it stands and what point a decision gets made on how the census will be conducted?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: As you know, the legislation that allow this sort of expedited process so the two lawsuits could proceed -- there's one in Virginia, there's one in Washington -- the suits are still at the briefing stages where the parties are filing, they're doing whatever small discovery they have, but they're not at a point where argument. We expect and we hope that we'll be able to get a fairly expedited decision if this moves along. One of the concerns --
Q Like when?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: It would be difficult to tell. I think the summer might be a little soon. I think --
Q This year?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Yes.
Q If the court decides that it's unconstitutional to do sampling, then, obviously, you won't do it. But if they decide it's constitutional, that doesn't compel Congress to go along with it, does it?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: No, it does not.
Q So then you'd face a legislative battle?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Yes, regardless. And the suit could be decided on procedural grounds and not reach the constitutional question, which is one of the major issues in the lawsuit.
I will say, if the court decided, if the court went to the substantive issue and decided that it would be unconstitutional, we could not do it. However, we expect to win if the battle should be joined on that issue.
Q And if you went in court, when do we think this plays out in Congress?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Well, I think it's alive and well in Congress at every available opportunity, certainly during the appropriations processes, we expect to see probably some very vigorous debate in Congress about this dealing with the appropriations bills in September. The professionals at the Census Bureau at the Department of Commerce have indicated they absolutely need a decision by February of next year, absolutely, because we have to do a tremendous amount of planning, and that's our drop dead date.
Q The city of Houston has joined the lawsuit, is that right?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: That was my understanding.
Q As a party or a --
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: As a party. A number of jurisdictions around the country -- New York and other cities -- that have been particularly injured because of the under-count have joined the lawsuit on the side of the government.
Q Do you know how many?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: No, I do not.
Q What is the administration's answer to those who say that the Constitution calls for an actual enumeration of the nation's population? How does statistical sampling meet that standard?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Quite well. First of all, the Constitution does, in fact, require an actual enumeration. It does not delineate what the methodology ought to be. It has left that to the Census Bureau over the years. For any number of years, we have introduced new innovations, technologies into census taking. This is simply another innovation in our ability to take the census. That would be the first response.
Secondly, the Justice Department, under Republican and Democratic administrations, have opined that it is perfectly admissable to take a census by using sampling methodology. In fact, in some of our other censuses, we use sampling as part of our methodology. So there is nothing legally wrong with taking sampling. Sampling is something that is not unfamiliar to the way we conduct business in this country and get data on who we are as a people. The decennial, however, has raised sampling to probably a new height.
Q Sir, has the administration decided on a new director yet for the Census Bureau, and what's the timetable for that decision?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: We have a nominee under consideration who is going through the background check process. I don't know -- Joe -- has it been made public who the name is -- I've seen the name in print.
MR. LOCKHART: The name has been printed.
Q What name has been given?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Ken Prewitt. He used to head up the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. He's a senior Vice President of Rockefeller Foundation -- extremely able candidate, and we believe he would provide excellent leadership.
Q Two questions. One, can you answer the President's question which seemed to go unanswered which is, how can you convince people that a sampling is as good as counting everyone? And the other question is, the Republicans claim that this is really a political move to get the Democrats back in control of the House.
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Let me take your first question. We have never, in the history of the nation, counted every single person. In point of fact, we have always missed people. In the worst census we have taken in modern history, in 1990, traditional enumeration; we missed 8 million people, we double-counted 4.4 million people.
What we're trying to do is improve the accuracy of our count. That's what we're trying to do -- improve the accuracy of our count. The National Academy of Sciences, statisticians, the American Statistical Association, academics all say, that the way to improve the accuracy of your count is to use scientific, statistical sampling.
Now, we will still send 116 million census forms to households all over the United States. We will still do that. The more people send that form back, the better our count is. The fact of the matter is the number of people sending our form back over the last several years since 1970 has been declining every decade. People are more mobile; there are a lot more homeless people in 1990; people are transitory, they have more complex living arrangements. It is harder and harder and harder to reach everybody. The density of populations -- some people don't want to be found in the Census Bureau. We have to account for those people because they still demand services.
This is what we're trying to do is improve the accuracy of our count. That is what statistical sampling will help us do. It does not mean that we're not going to send forms to you, it does not mean that we're not going to send enumerators to your home when you don't respond. We're still going to do that. But we want to keep improving this number. We do an excellent job in the United States of counting people. We want to make it even better, and we can make it better. Eight million people missed is not a good record and we can improve it. We know the way to do it. That's why we want to press so hard on this issue. It's a new technological innovation to the census. I would imagine 20 years from now, there will be other debates about the way we do the census. But this is a progress, and it's going to take us time. But this is a winning strategy for improving the under-count.
Q Did you also address the complaints from the Republicans in Congress that this is really just a Democratic ploy to boost the number of people counted in urban areas, thus giving them -- they count 26 new House seats and control of the House.
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: First of all, I don't know how they would know that. I have no idea how they would know that. This is a clairvoyance of a kind they've not been particularly accurate at in the past. First of all, what we are trying to do is count people. We don't do voter registration. We're just trying to count the number of people in the United States on census day in the year 2000. This is not something that was cooked up by the Clinton administration. This was begun under the Bush administration, after the failed 1990 census. The National Academy of Sciences made this recommendation to the Census Bureau. A number of people studied it well before we knew who was going to be President in 1992. So this is not a plot by the administration to make up people or to do things. That's simply, emphatically, not true. This is, however, to ensure the accuracy of our census. We can do better, we have the tools to do better, and we want to do better.
Q But it may result in what the Republicans fear, might it not?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Well, it could. It's possible. But that is not where we are now. We want to concentrate on doing the census better and more accurately. Let the chips fall where they may on the political side. That's not what we're talking about. That's not where I am. Let the chips fall where they may. And I don't think we have any reasons to know. We have no way of knowing that.
Q If the Democrats in the administration don't view this as political, then why appoint Tony Cuehlo as Co-Chairman of the Census Monitoring Board?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Well the Census Monitoring Board is a creature of the Republican Congress. We have -- it is an extraordinary thing to have done. We have never had to have that kind of monitoring, supervisory assistance to census in the history of the United States. This has never happened before. The Monitoring Board is a result of introducing politics into census-taking. But the board exists. We have, we think, four fine Americans who are going to help us make 2000 the best census we've ever taken.
Q But doesn't the appointment of Tony --
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: No, it does not. No, it does not. What it does say is that we have a mature, former Congressman who is very interested in this issue, wants us to ensure the accuracy of the census, and he's a part of the team. No more than what the other four appointees are. No, it does not.
Q Mr. Prewitt, he's still be vetted, he hasn't been submitted?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: He has not been formally submitted to the Congress.
Q When will that happen?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Well, we hope it -- it can't happen soon enough.
Q What's the holdup in his background check?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: There is no holdup. There is no hold up. It's moving apace.
Q Have you checked with people on the Hill? What's the response been from people on the Hill, preliminary to sending it?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: It's been very positive. The people who were familiar with him, or were familiar with his credentials certainly said that we certainly sought a nominee who was nonpartisan, we sought a nominee who had excellent credentials, who on its face, unparalleled in terms of the competition. We're very proud of that.
Q Are the Republicans there asking him about statistical sampling?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: We have not reached that point yet where he has gone to speak with them yet. We're going to wait until the background investigation is completed, and then we get -- the President I'm certain will take the appropriate action. And if the President submits his name to the Congress, at that time, he'll have that opportunity.
Q Well, have the preparations for the summit suffered because there hasn't been a Bureau Director since January?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: No they have not. We have appointed an acting Census Director, who is a 30-year veteran of the Census Bureau; he's a career employee -- a 30-year veteran. He has been through the 1970 census, the 1980 census, the 1990 census -- in fact, started working for the Census Bureau in about 1966. He has a tremendous knowledge of the census and we feel that we are in very good hands.
Q Is that Mr. Holms?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: That is Mr. Holms -- Jim Holms from Atlanta -- the Atlanta region.
Q If he's that good, why didn't you want to nominate him --
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Because Mr. Holms is a 30-year veteran --
Q Too old?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: No, no, he's not actually old at all. No, no, not old at all. But he's a career employee. And this is going to be a very long process, we believe, very long process in the Senate. He agreed to leave his family in Atlanta to come up and try to do this and decided that he did not want to be under final consideration. That's what happened.
Q You mean you asked him?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Well, I think that anytime you have someone of that kind of talent you do look at them very closely.
Q Is that a yes?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: No, it's not a yes, it's -- a little testy, aren't you -- you are really are testy. (Laughter.)
Q The tests that were going to be done in, I think, South Carolina and Sacramento -- have they been done?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: In the Menomenee Indian Reservation in Menomenee, Wisconsin. There are three -- you're talking about the dress rehearsal?
Q Right, right. Has that been done?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Well, we're in the middle of it now. The dress rehearsal began April the 18th in Columbia, South Carolina, where we have a test -- a dress rehearsal for a non-sampling census site, sort of a rural area. Sacramento, California, one of the most diverse cities in the United States, with many different languages spoken, many different kinds of people, is sort of the test for the urban site. And the highest under-count in 1990 was on Indian reservations -- 12.4 percent of Native Americans on Indian reservations were under-counted in 1990. We're conducting that test in Wisconsin on the Menomenee Indian Reservation. That is underway now.
Q Using both methods?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Yes -- only in Sacramento we're using sampling; non-sampling in Charleston and Columbia; and we're using sampling on the Indian reservation.
Q How do you know which --
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Well, the social scientists and the statisticians will be able to make judgments about that and come back and give us the benefit of their work.
Q I'm sorry, when will this be done?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: All of the results will be in by the end of the year. They are on the same trajectory as the census. They try to make it as close to the actual census as possible. We had only slippage this year because of the appropriations process. Census day traditionally is April 1st, so they like to start on April 1st, and you do all the preparation. All the results have to be in to the President by December 31st -- at the end of the year. So in the year 2000, all the results have to be in by December 31st. We're on the same timetable as the real census.
Q In reaction, do you know which U.S. cities with the largest under-counts --
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: I should recall it because I've given that speech many times, but Texas is probably -- and Houston, actually, as I recall, was the largest under-count city.
MR. LOCKHART: And California is the largest under-counted state.
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Yes, and California is the largest under-count state. In fact, in Texas, every city, every town over 100,000 people, the under-count rate was larger than the national average -- in every town in Texas with more than 100,000 people.
Q Why is that, do you know?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Well, we've been sort of grappling with that. The National Academy said in their study it's because of the diversity of populations, and sort of the way people live in large cities -- and Texas has a lot of large cities, so it was unusual in -- a large number of large cities in this state, unlike a lot of other states. It's very hard to know.
Q How was it determined that there has been an under-count, and who does that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: There's a -- in the 1990 census, we did something called the Post Enumeration Survey, where, after the census is done, they go back and make this quality check, and they call it the PES -- you may have heard that term thrown around -- it's called the Post Enumeration Survey, where they do back and they look, they do a sample, they draw a sample and they make some determinations. And it's amazingly accurate. And that's how they make that determination.
Q Would you like us to stand up and be counted now? (Laughter.)
Q Do you have an estimate of what the per-family cost of the census will be in 2000?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: I do not have an estimate of the per-family cost. And one of those things is what we are trying to figure out in the dress rehearsal, because we'll see how often we have to go back to households that don't turn in their forms.
Q Do you have a guess as to whether it will be more or less than 1990?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: It will probably be more than 1990, almost certainly -- 1990 was over $2 billion for the census. This is going to be about $4.2 billion. If we have to do -- if we are forced to do a census without sampling, if we are forced to do a census we know will not be as accurate, that number is going to rise pretty substantially, because right now, to do the work we have to do in terms of sampling, we have to hire 260,000 people for the census. We've got to hire 260,000 census. To do a census without sampling, we've got to raise that number by at least 100,000, which is going to be very difficult to do in unemployment 4.3 percent.
We've already seen in the dress rehearsal in a place like Columbia, which has a 1.9 percent unemployment rate, that we had to raise the wages in order to attract people to come work for the census.
Q The $4.2 billion is with sampling?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Yes.
Q When you said Houston was the city with the biggest under-count, and California the state, the President in his remarks referred to Los Angeles and the under-count there being equivalent to the city of Tallahassee --
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Tallahassee, right.
Q So is that saying that in Houston the under-count was equivalent to something greater than the city of Tallahassee?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: That's percentage-wise. The percentage under-count for Hispanics in Houston in 1990 was 7.32 percent. For African Americans it was 4.5 percent. For Asians it was 2.6 percent -- I think that's right.
Q When you say the largest, do you mean in terms of percentage or in actual numbers? It must be in terms of percent.
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Asians was 3.1 percent, I'm sorry. Percentages. The national is 1.6 percent. And if we use sampling, we can get that down to a tenth of a percent.
Q The Chairman of the Census Subcommittee in the House has just issued a statement in which he says the better alternative is a better outreach to majority communities and granting them -- publicizing the fact that this is totally confidential. How do you think that works?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: It doesn't work. And we've tried it, and we've been trying it for a long time, and we've seen the numbers steadily decline. This year, however, we will do -- he is right -- we will do a massive public outreach campaign and we'll do it through paid advertising, because we've got to get that number back up to try to get it above 55 percent of the people who mail back their forms.
That's where the biggest bang for your buck comes. The more people send that form back, the better off we are. And what the campaign is designed to do is to encourage people to send that form back. It's called mail-back response. The more people send that form back, the better off we are. We're cooking with gas.
And so he's right. If we can get more people engaged and who are willing to send that form back, the better off we are. It will still -- that number will still not give us the level of accuracy that we know that we can get with sampling.
Q Did you say you needed 100,000 more people if you don't use sampling?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: That's correct. At least 100,000 more people. And I say "at least" because it will depend -- like we had to raise the wage rate. The last time they hired enumerators at the minimum wage. This time we did a huge study, had this company do a study, and our average wage rates, they said, ought to be $9 to $12 an hour. We set the wage rate in Columbia, South Carolina, at like $9.60 -- something like that, give or take a few cents -- don't hold me to that. We had to raise it by a buck, because we weren't getting people coming in to apply for the jobs. We raised it a buck and we got more people. There is some -- they tell us there is some wage elasticity were people will come.
Q Earlier you went through the number of under-counted people in Houston by race and ethnicity. What's the total number of people estimated that have been under-counted in Houston, the percentage?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: I did them as a percentage. We can give you the numbers.
Q You broke it down by race. Can you say, X number of Houston residents were under-counted?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Yes, 3.93 percent; so it's really 4 percent, 4 percent of Houstonians under-counted.
Q And what's the number? How many?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: It's 66,748. Total for Texas, 2.76 percent, so right at 2.8 percent; 482,738 folks were missed in Texas.
And the interesting thing about Texas is the number of children under-counted. That number I just gave you, the 482,000 -- of that number, over 225,000 children were under-counted. Children were the highest under-counted population in the 1990 census; 52 percent of all of the under-count were children, which are the people we're trying to provide services to. And they were children in populations that were significantly under-counted.
Q Can you estimate how much that $4.2 billion figure will go up if you are not allowed to do sampling?
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Well, we have been working on that figure for a long time. We've been trying to figure that out. Estimates have ranged from anywhere from $675 million to an estimate I saw of $1.2 billion. However, that did not factor into account what we may have to do to adjust the wage rates, so we are still trying to refine that figure as we move along.
THE PRESS: Thanks.
DEPUTY SECRETARY MALLETT: Thank you.
MR. LOCKHART: Anything else?
Q Joe, what time is the President meeting with Albright tomorrow?
MR. LOCKHART: I think the meeting will be at about 9:00 a.m. I expect, for everyone that needs to plan for tomorrow, that the President will likely make a statement upon his departure, which --
Q He's going to meet at 9:00 a.m., and then they will talk for --
MR. LOCKHART: They will talk for an hour or so, and then the statement will be sometime in the 10:00 a.m., 10:15 a.m. area. Don't hold me to the exact time, but in that range. And it's also my understanding that Secretary Albright will stay behind at the White House and give a readout.
Q What time is she leaving for her meeting?
MR. LOCKHART: What time she's leaving -- I don't. But I think for the purposes of planning at the White House in the morning, we're looking at something probably around 10:30 a.m. or so in the morning.
Q Is there going to be a gaggle in the morning, do you know, that we need to staff?
MR. LOCKHART: That's a good question. Let me find out for you.
Q Is the President going to also do the MFN for China tomorrow morning?
MR. LOCKHART: Tomorrow is the deadline for sending up the paperwork, so I think it would probably be a fairly good guess that that subject will be discussed tomorrow, and he may raise it in his statement.
Q In a statement rather than at the event?
MR. LOCKHART: No, in his statement after the meeting.
Q Is that going to be on the South Lawn?
MR. LOCKHART: I think so, yes. Somewhere in the Rose Garden, South Lawn, someplace.
Q Isn't the statement going to be something on Pakistan, though? The statement would presumably be on that, and then he's going to like segue off at that event.
MR. LOCKHART: We'll see.
Q There was a pool report -- didn't you give the --
MR. LOCKHART: I did.
Q Our report said then that it would be on India-Pakistan.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, and I'm suggesting now that there may be more than one subject; it may be just India-Pakistan.
Q Is the President ready to ease sanctions against North Korea?
MR. LOCKHART: That question, I assume, is in response to the story in The New York Times today. What I can tell you is that we look forward to President Kim's visit here, the first since his election. That meeting will give the President a chance to continue our close relationship and exchange views on the best way to promote peace and stability in the region.
Q Is he open to the idea of easing sanctions?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I assume if the President wants to bring an idea like that, they will discuss it. But I'm not going to prejudge next week's meeting.
Q Do you know if there has been any signs that North Korea is worthy of getting sanctions lifted, that they're receptive to that?
MR. LOCKHART: I think the President looks forward to the discussions he'll have next week. And if that is something that comes up, we may have more to say next week. But I'm not going to prejudge those meetings today.
Q Is there a part of this Albright meeting that's pool, there is an in-town travel pool person?
MR. LOCKHART: No. I'm not aware of the coverage details. I don't think so, but we'll inquire.
Q Do you have any reason to believe that if Ken Starr does still want an expedited Supreme Court action on attorney-client privilege, on that matter of attorney-client privilege, that the White House will stick by its position as of yesterday that it will resist?
MR. LOCKHART: I think the position put forward by the White House Counsel yesterday is sound on the issue of attorney-client and is very clear, and I don't see any reason, despite any counterargument, why our argument would not remain.
Q The New York Times in an editorial today said your position is not clear and not good, and the Supreme Court should take up this issue because it's a matter of great importance to the American people.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think it's a matter of great importance that The New York Times editorial page is allowed to freely express their opinion, however misguided it might be.
Q Don't ask about my paper. (Laughter.)
MR. LOCKHART: I was getting to that. (Laughter.)
Q The Duma is going to take up -- start its hearing on START, but they said they want President Clinton to keep his mouth shut about the issue. Will he keep his mouth shut? And is there any greater likelihood of a Russia trip coming up soon?
MR. LOCKHART: In the spirit of keeping one's mouth shut, I'll keep mine shut on this.
Q He's going to Moscow in July, right? Moscow in July, tentative plans?
MR. LOCKHART: None that I'm aware of.
Q Why cancel a Hawaiian vacation? Why rush back?
MR. LOCKHART: No plans that I'm aware of, and no change in the oft-stated McCurry wisdom on this subject.
Q He's coming directly back from Beijing instead of taking a few days off. He's going to have to come back to do something.
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware of what is going on at the end of that trip, but I certainly don't want to suggest that there is another stop, because I'm not aware of one.
Q No, I didn't mean another stop. There's got to be something.
Q So do you have any -- since the Duma is going to start these hearings sooner than they had planned -- any idea whether or not that -- do we have any information that suggests there is a chance of getting this ratified --
MR. LOCKHART: I think there have obviously been positive statements made in the last two or three weeks on this subject, but I'm not in a position to offer any accurate prediction of what they may do.
Q Are you optimistic, Joe?
MR. LOCKHART: I think, as I think we've said several times over the last two or three weeks, there seems to be more talk about bringing this and getting it done under the new government. And President Yeltsin has talked on this subject. But I'm not in a position to really -- to offer a prediction.
Q How seriously is Bruce Lindsey ill because of slipped discs?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know the precise nature of it, but he's got a problem with his back and it's kept him from work and kept him, for the most part, immobile. But I don't know medically, what the --
Q -- independent counsel is going to ask Mr. Blumenthal to return on a certain date?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware, although, Mr. Blumenthal was at the courthouse today.
MR. LOCKHART: No, I'm not aware -- he was there for something else.
Q He was there for something else?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, for another --
Q What's that?
MR. LOCKHART: The ongoing case involving the Drudge Report.
Q But there's no date, as far as you know, when he'll --
MR. LOCKHART: Not as far as -- not as of last night when -- the last time I talked to Sidney.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:34 P.M. CDT