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Editorials

June 29, 2013

Border bill would save taxpayers money

The so-called “Gang of Eight” U.S. senators pushing for immigration reform was bolstered last week by a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that said the bill would reduce federal budget deficits by up to $200 billion over the next decade.

Legalized immigrants, the report said, would consume about $262 billion in government spending while contributing $459 billion in revenue. The report added that the bill would increase economic productivity and raise wages across the workforce 0.5 percent by 2033.

The CBO’s report predictably drew fire from those who have a stake in seeing the Senate bill defeated. Among the most strident CBO critics is the Heritage Foundation, whose own study of the bill in May estimated it would cost taxpayers $5.38 trillion over the next 10 years.

“Amnesty for illegal immigrants is the first order of business,” the group said in a media release. “This is the wrong way to address a serious issue with trillions in taxpayer dollars at stake.”

But the right-leaning group’s study was lambasted for the dubious math behind its so-called “dynamic scoring.” Heritage’s study, for example, counts the education of all children of legalized immigrants as an additional cost, ignoring the fact that many such children are already attending public schools and consuming their resources today.

Heritage’s study also ignores the increased workforce efficiency legalized immigrants would provide, and assumes that their earnings couldn’t increase throughout their lifetimes.

But despite a shaky factual footing, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., took a stand against the bill Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation.

“The numbers in the bill, the lack of enforcement effectiveness in the bill, puts us in a position where it will impact all Americans that are out there working today adversely,” Sessions said. “And the CBO has said that. The Federal Reserve in Atlanta has said that. Harvard economists have said that. There’s really little doubt about that.”

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