Citizens First: Ma’am, Who Would Know That?

I thought at first it was an April Fool’s Day joke.

For months I had been sending emails and making calls to ask my state’s Congressional delegation and others in the U.S. federal government how many citizens there are in the United States.

I couldn’t get an answer, so on April 1, close to the Census and tax filing deadlines, I called the White House and asked, “How many U.S. citizens are there?”

In late January I did find Tom Edwards, a Public Affairs Specialist in the U S Census Bureau who could track down a number of U.S. citizens. It was listed, sort of, many pages down from the U.S. Census Bureau home page . I took the URL, the page’s web address, and pasted it into a file for future use. It was both so lengthy and so buried that I could not find it again without using the address to get directly to it. Finding the number, that no one knew and cannot be easily found also increased my concern; my feeling that our federal government does not operate as I thought it would and should.

So, I began asking other people – Do you know how many U.S. citizens there are? Do you think our elected federal representatives to Congress, their staff, and the President and his staff should know?

Most folks I spoke to think as I did – Of course they know. The job of the US federal government is to work for US citizens. The Census done every 10 years is specifically done so they and we can know how many citizens the U.S. has. That is how Congress, the White House, and the federal offices who help them create a budget determine how much to spend each year. I was so wrong!

The U.S. Census, which costs billions of taxpaying citizen dollars, does not count citizens. The number of people counted, used by Congress and the President to set our federal budget, includes 6 to 81/2 %, between 18 million and 26 million people, who are not U.S. citizens.

That means, the annual U S deficit which may be as high as $13 trillion, includes between $780 million and $1.105 trillion our government spends to meet the needs of people who are not U S citizens.

How do I figure that? Well, after learning that no one representing me in Congress could give me a number of U S citizens, nor could the Congressional Budget Office, which serves and provides advice to Congress, and learning the numbers U S Census folks gave me varied between 282 million and 307 million, I again did an online search. A fellow named Ed Hall has a website U S National Debt Clock, which he says he gets by using U S Treasury data. He estimates close to $13 trillion in U S debt and about 308 million people in the U S sharing it. As of April 9, 2010, he estimates each U.S. citizen carries $41, 664 in debt. But, like official sources, his numbers are actually based in population estimates.

Using the U S Census figure of $282 million citizens – each citizen also has about $3500 more in debt to cover non-citizens.

So on April 1 I began double checking – I called my Congressional representative and two senator’s offices and asked how many U S citizens we are. None had a solid number; one said their office had never been asked the question. The estimate each used was somewhere around 300 million people.

I keep hearing on TV that we must fill out and return our Census form. It is critical so our government can be sure how many of us there are and be sure we all get our fair share of federal funds.

I am also filing my annual taxes, so I hoped my dollars are being spent wisely. It made me pretty hot to think each U S taxpaying citizen is paying an average of over $40,000 for annual U S government debt – I bet most of it is interest. My financial institution and every responsible person who taught me about budget and spending says it is irresponsible to spend more than one has – I know first hand that interest quickly takes away money I try to save.

It’s wrong that my government does not follow responsible rules, rules I and all responsible citizens I know follow. I was still in disbelief, so called the White House at 202-456-1414. I asked if she could tell me how many US citizens there are. The answer I got first was that no one at the White House knows. They did let me leave a message for the office of the President’s Chief of Staff – I’ve been waiting 12 days for a call back.

I called the White House back, spoke with a different woman. Again I asked, “how many US citizens are there?

Her reply approximately was, ”What? Ma’am I don’t understand. What is it you want to know?”

I repeated, “I would like to know what the number of U.S. citizens is.”

Her response, “Now, Ma’am. Who would know that?”

I guess no one who sets the U.S. budget. I find it of grave concern. This is one U.S. citizen’s opinion. Please use it as you see fit.

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