Thorner: CBO immigration bill study requires a willing suspension of disbelief, part 3

June 22, 2013


When ascertaining the costs of wrongheaded policy, not unlike the thrust of the Congressional Budget Office report issued in May when Republicans voted on the full repeal of Obamacare, the CBO asks the American people to engage in a willing suspension of disbelief.

A report from Congress’ CBO on June 18, described as a non-partisan score keeping agency, claimed that S. 477 would push the federal deficits lower in each of the next two decades, $700 billion alone in the next 10 years if the bill becomes law. Although the CBO report did admit that S. 477 would increase federal spending through benefits received by the estimated 8 million gaining legal status, the same report insists that expenses would be more than offset by the increase of the labor force bringing with it an increase in revenues.

How can this be so given a CBO report that has further determined that wages will fall for the middle class under the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill. Most disconcerting is that illegal immigration would continue to occur at a 75% level under S. 477, slowing future immigration by only 25%. That means the addition of  7.5 million new illegal immigrants in the next couple of decades. In reality the CBO report, instead of adding momentum behind S. 477, actually undermines the message of those who support the legislation.

The Heritage Foundation’s “Morning Bell” heading on June 19 read:  Congress Is trying to Fool You on Immigration. The Morning Bell article went on to explain how this is so in keeping with the way Congress does business. 

A piece of legislation is going to cost trillions of dollars, but Members of Congress don’t want the public to see that. Instead they have the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) look at the bill for just the first 10 years — and they move any costly items off into the future on purpose.

In the same report Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), ranking member of the Senate budget committee, explained how the Gang of Eight purposefully hid the true costs of the bill:

The bill’s drafters relied on the same scoring gimmicks used by the Obamacare drafters to conceal its true cost from taxpayers and to manipulate the CBO score.  There is a reason why eligibility for the most expensive federal benefits was largely delayed outside the 10-year scoring window:  to mislead the public.

Sessions added:  This bill guarantees three things:  amnesty, increased welfare costs, and lower wages for the U.S. workforce.  It would be the biggest setback for poor and middle-class Americans of any legislation Congress has considered in decades.:Points for consideration by Daniel Horowitz (Diary) about the adverse cost effects of S. 477 at odds with the CBO scoring of the Gang of Eight legislation:

1.  Within 5 years of passage, anyone who came here under the age of 16 (with no maximum age cap) will be eligible for citizenship along with their spouses and children.  Those who have already been deported but otherwise eligible for the Dream Act will enjoy that status as well.  Additionally, all illegals who are Ag workers will get green cards in 5 years.

2.  That represents a huge population of young, poor people who will be eligible for every program within the 10-year budget frame, plus in-state tuition and student loans.If you score the letter of the law, those immigrants who represent a public charge would be denied eligibility.  The reality is that the numerous waivers will void out that requirement.

3.  Much of the cost – both in terms of public services and welfare – will be borne by the states.  That is obviously not reflected in the cost estimate of the federal budget.

4.  No cost estimate has attempted to ascertain the cost of birthright citizenship.  Every RPI, new legal immigrants, or guest worker can secure benefits on behalf of American-born children.  The industries want these people so they can pay them slave wages.  As such, they will all be eligible for the programs after they have American-born children.  And Jeb Bush might even suggest that they are “very fertile.”

5. The most revenue and economic growth will come from high-skilled immigration, a small component of the bill, and the area of immigration where there is a broad agreement on the economic benefits.  Yet CBO admits that “the new workers would be less skilled and have lower wages, on average, than the labor force under current law.”

6.  There is no way that the Treasury will ever recover all that revenue from the fines and fees.  The bill grants the secretary of DHS wide discretion to wave those fines if they would cause hardship.  Anyone who thinks that an application will be turned down because the alien is unable to afford the fine is living in a dream world.

7.  Obviously, this score doesn’t take into account the long-term effects of retirement costs.  Again, forgetting about immigrants for a moment, low-income workers receive a lot more in Social Security benefits than they put in.  Ditto for Medicare.

On Thursday, June 20 it was announced that the Gang of Eight had reached a border security compromise so named the Corker-Hoeven compromise that would include a huge increase in border personnel and an increase in fencing.  The agreement was made behind doors to secure the 70 votes needed to pass the controversial S. 477, as a ploy to convince Republican senators that they in good conscience could now vote for S. 477..

Even if the border patrol were doubled, what good would more border agents be if the administration ties their hands.  Most importantly, the triggers for security in the Corker-Hoeven plan —  Bob Corker  (R-Tenn.) – John Hoeven (R-N.D.) — all occur after legalization.  Republican senators who want an excuse to vote for S. 477 will be willing to go along with the charade that security triggers will actually be implemented after amnesty has taken place.

The Corker-Hoeven wimpy compromise promise was enough for Senator Mark Kirk, who having voted “no” twice on Senate procedural motions on the immigration reform bill based on the security issue, now favors S. 477.
May there be a pox on both parties: for Republican operatives who see S. 477 as a steady supply of cheap labor and for Democrats who can hardly contain themselves knowing that millions of Hispanic voters will come their way.

If truth be told, neither party wants the border sealed.  Both Republicans and Democrats are pulling out all the stops trying to convince the American people that the flawed Gang of Eight bill, just like Obamacare, must become the law of the land for the good this nation.  But unlike 1986, the trust factor looms large in 2013.  1986 is still fresh in the minds of many Americans.  Amnesty did happen, but the promise of security was brushed aside leading to the situation that exists today.

Extremely satisfactory components are found in the legislation for powerful lobbying groups and other special interests, but on the subjects of public safety, border security, and interior enforcement, the Gang of Eight bill fails and is a dramatic step in the wrong direction.

Part 1 on S.477

Part 2 on S.477
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