Congress Is Trying to Fool You on Immigration
by Amy Payne, Heritage Foundation, June 19, 2013
Congress is trying to fool you.
Here’s how they do 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.
They did it with Obamacare—saved the budget bombshells for later. Now they’re trying to do it with immigration.
Yesterday, the CBO released its score of the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill. Heritage experts are still analyzing the full report, but a few things jumped out immediately. The Gang of Eight bill:
- WILL NOT stop illegal immigration – Despite promises of a secure border, the bill would slow future illegal immigration by only 25 percent, according to the CBO. In the next couple of decades, that means 7.5 million new illegal immigrants.
- WILL drive down wages – For legal American workers, the CBO estimates the bill would drive down their average wages.
The bill will burden taxpayers with trillions of dollars in welfare and entitlement costs for the newly legalized immigrants under amnesty. Heritage’s Robert Rector explains:
S.744 provides only a temporary delay in eligibility to welfare and entitlements. Over time, S.744 makes all 18.5 million eligible for nearly every government program, including: Obamacare, 80 different welfare programs, Social Security and Medicare. When this occurs, spending will explode, but nearly all the real costs do not appear in the CBO score.
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. As Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, I asked CBO to provide a long-term estimate. Sadly, CBO did not provide the long-term estimate as requested.
Heritage’s Derrick Morgan wrote yesterday about the CBO’s selective time period:
The CBO report also does little to assuage concern that the amnesty portion of the bill would be very costly to U.S. taxpayers. It provides only a look at the first 10 years in any real detail. (It includes only a sketch of the second 10 years.)
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.”
It’s easy to get the result you want when you don’t have to account for a bill’s cost. That’s exactly what the Gang of Eight is trying to get away with.
Heritage will host a public discussion of the CBO report today. Watch the event live at 2 p.m. ET: Scoring the Immigration Bill
How to Read the CBO’s Scoring of the Immigration Bill
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