Saturday, September 16, 2006

Fuzzy Immigration Math

According to a Washington Post article, the Republican-dominated Congress is ignoring a CBO study on the economic impact of immigration.
Would offering undocumented immigrants a path to legalization bust the federal budget? Critics of the Senate immigration bill, which seeks to crack down on illegal immigration while giving many currently undocumented workers a chance to work legally in this country, tout a Congressional Budget Office study that they say shows the bill would cost a whopping $126 billion over 10 years. A fair reading of that study, however, suggests that the bill's actual impact on the deficit would be close to zero and that it could even be beneficial.


So how did critics of the Senate bill arrive at the sensational $126 billion figure, which appears nowhere in the CBO report? First, they counted all of the bill's spending increases while ignoring all of its increases in revenue. For example, they counted the increased costs of Social Security and Medicare benefits for those additional immigrants who would qualify for them, while ignoring the increased Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes the immigrants would pay to qualify for those benefits.
My position on immigration is outlined here.