About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Common Sense & The Heritage Foundation Report On Immigration Costs

"I have written about people of substance not letting the poorest, lowest skilled, most uneducated people in the world take their life savings without a fight. That is where the civil war or uprising will come from – not the weak protesting the strong but just the opposite."  RTE posting of May 6, 2012
Click on graphs to enlarge
Last week the Heritage Foundation released their much awaited report entitled The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants & Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer that calculated the net cost to taxpayers for the amnesty portion of the Senate bill currently working its way through committee to be $6,300 billion 2010 constant dollars.  The lead author is Robert Rector who used the same accounting framework for the report that the National Academy of Sciences uses for similar reports. 
See top left graph - Government benefits & services received include 1) direct benefits like unemployment insurance & workers' compensation, 2) means tested welfare benefits like food stamps & housing assistance, 3) public education, & 4) population based services like police & fire protection.  The net fiscal deficit shown on the graph must be financed by taxes from legal households or by government borrowing.
The report was not received well by many usual Heritage allies like the Cato Institute, Grover Norquist, Steve Moore, & of course members of the Republican Party who are in favor of the 844 page comprehensive immigration reform bill – lead author Marco Rubio – that is still being written meaning it will get longer.
Many critics attacked the methodology of the Heritage report saying that contrary to empirical evidence, the report assumes no increased economic efficiency from immigration, no benefit from additional workers, no economic mobility, & accordingly did not use dynamic scoring.  Now Robert Rector is just about the last person in the world I would want to debate challenging his stats & methodology so good luck with that approach.  Rector is a respected expert on welfare use & helped write the 1996 welfare reform law.
But let's put all of the technical points aside for a moment & just try to use a common sense analysis.  Over half of unlawful immigrant households are headed by someone who on average has a tenth grade education & another twenty seven percent are headed by someone with a high school education meaning that more than three quarters of these people will be significant tax consumers – see top right graph.  Doesn't it seem obvious that these 11.5 million individuals will tend to have low wages and pay comparatively little in taxes compared to the benefits they will consume?
With re to the lack of dynamic scoring criticism – I point out that government will get even bigger over the years offering even more than the current eighty means tested welfare programs thereby increasing Rector's numbers.  Also Rector did not include the cost of family members coming to America that is part of the bill.  The report does not examine the cost of future chain-migration spurred by the pending Senate bill.  It does not look at the tax impact of the bill's provisions that would bring in another 20 million people, nor on the chain migration spurred by those 20 million immigrants.  Most of the current illegals – & their extended families - are low-skill workers, ensuring they already receive more in federal benefits than they pay in taxes.
The deception used by Rubio is his claim that no federal benefits will be paid to unlawful immigrants for the first thirteen years under the pending bill – just outside the ten year window the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) uses to calculate the effect of every proposed legislation.  This sounds good & Rector acknowledges that if no federal benefits are paid that the deficit will be reduced over these first thirteen years; but Rector did a full lifetime analysis & the later years are the ones that overwhelm any initial contributions made by the unlawful immigrants.  The reality of benefits being non-existent for thirteen years is another matter that I would have to see to believe.
Now this disagreement revolves around politicians on one side (virtually all Democrats who smell blood in the water thinking 75% of unlawful immigrants who gain citizenship from the pending bill will vote for them & some Republicans who think that they have no place to go but up with Hispanics after Mitt received only 27% of the Hispanic vote in the last presidential election) & on the other side people like those @ the Heritage Foundation who are interested in the preservation of the country & not just getting some politician reelected.  The Heritage report says "Unlawful immigration...makes it harder for the least advantaged U.S. citizens to share in the American dream. This is wrong; public policy should support the interests of those who have a right to be here, not those who have broken our laws."  This Heritage point is hard for many principled people to get past.  A person who wants to start a new life in America by arriving @ midnight hiding from border guards in the trunk of a car is not likely to contribute to the foundation to build our future upon.
In addition to Rubio the immigration legislation is promoted by seven senators (known as the Gang of Eight) who represent states with large foreign born populations (except for Lindsey Graham of SC who has a habit of following McCain on many issues).  The Gang's motivation for supporting the bill starts to make sense when you see the make-up of their constituents.
All of the immigration reform discussions of the past quarter century have broken down because of lack of enforcement – for instance the 1986 Immigration Reform & Control Act gave immediate amnesty to almost 3 million people but there has not been even one single day since passage of the bill that its enforcement provisions have been followed.
The pending immigration legislation legalizes nearly all of the 11.5 million unlawful immigrants within six months but leaves the southern border porous & corrects any continuing problems by appointing a commission after five years to make recommendations re corrective action.  What enforcement mechanisms that are in the bill apply only to seaports & airports but not land check points & an e-verify system begins for all employers only after five years.  Rubio admits this is weak.
Professor Friedman famously said that you can have open borders or you can have the welfare state, but you cannot have both & of course we have had both for decades & the Rubio immigration bill continues this. The first laws limiting immigration to America were in the 1920s.  Originally people came to America for freedom & to work because there was no welfare – these people assimilated & made America stronger.  When a politician says today "we are a nation of immigrants" he is making a misleading pitch for patriotism & our heritage; for decades immigration, as regulated by the federal government & its welfare programs, has significantly contributed to the Death Of Democracy of the American Republic.  Rubio says we have de facto amnesty now because it is obvious to him that the 11.5 million unlawful immigrants are not going home meaning they have won & it is just a matter of how much.
The Heritage report was barely released @ a news conference last week when the attacks instantly started by people who are primarily interested in being reelected or are heavily invested in seeing their favorite politician get reelected - as has become the custom in Washington these people had not had time to read the Heritage report before attacking.  Wouldn't it be better to address the Heritage calculations & methodology with point by point technical rebuttal so that all of us would know what is real?  Can we afford to find out that the Heritage report is correct but we ignored it because of promises from politicians from states with large foreign born populations?
Politicians love power & know that the citizenry has taken liberty & freedom for granted far too long meaning we are ripe for abuse & having our life savings legally taken from us & given to the poorest, lowest skilled, most uneducated people in the world in exchange for votes.  Accordingly the real benefit of the comprehensive immigration reform legislation goes to the politicians who want to get reelected thereby staying in office into perpetuity.  The cost presented in the Heritage report, if correct, will not affect their lifestyles but it sure will affect all of the rest of us – if we let them get away with it.
Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation, favors step by step immigration reform instead of one big comprehensive piece of legislation like the Gang of Eight is proposing.  Looking @ the above right graph isn't it again just common sense to start DeMint's approach by increasing the issuance of visas, green cards, & paths to citizenship for the type of college graduates that produce a surplus of taxes paid over government benefits received.  In this way taxes on all Americans can ultimately be reduced because the new immigrants don't require all of the government benefits & services that the last wave of immigrants did. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Doug - What country are the majority of the illegal immigrants coming from? Several times a year I hire Hispanic day workers to help around the yard. My Spanish is sufficient to engage in conversation. All of the Day Workers around here, NJ, are from Guatemala. Most live in a single room share a bath and send money home to their families. Are these the immigrants the Heritage Report identified as a burden on the US taxpayer? How do immigrants from Guatemala get through Mexico? Do these Immigrants ever return home to their native country?