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Pro-Immigration Reform Economist Joins Heritage Foundation

by Van Le on 01/22/2014 at 3:51pm

Jim DeMint’s Heritage Foundation is taking one big step away from Jason Richwine…and one step closer to embracing a reasonable immigration policy?

The Heritage Foundation — now infamous for an episode last year where they released a report co-authored by a guy who believes Hispanics have lower IQs than whites – made headlines yesterday over an unexpected new hire. Stephen Moore, a conservative economist and writer, will be coming onboard as Heritage’s new chief economist, sparking commentary on what the hire means for the think tank’s immigration policy.

Heritage was once regarded as a serious think tank for conservative values, but in recent years it has been slammed for  blindly adhering to  Tea Party dogma come hell or high water.  Remember, the Heritage report that Jason Richwine co-authored in the first place tried to argue that the Senate immigration bill would cost $6 trillion, a direct contradiction to the CBO’s finding that the bill would save the US nearly $1 trillion over 20 years. And earlier this month, Heritage tried to argue that Congress should forsake immigration reform altogether until Obama is no longer president — no matter how badly legislation is needed or how much tax revenue we lose in the meantime.

Stephen Moore, in contrast, has been hailed as someone who has a little more rational–but still highly conservative — take on immigration reform. As MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin noted:

Moore, who served as a member of the pro-reform Wall Street Journal editorial board until now, has long taken a different view. Way back in 1997, he wrote a piece for libertarian think tank Cato arguing that it was a “myth” that immigrants “impose a financial burden on taxpayers” or that they “depress wages and working conditions.” In 2004, he defended President George W. Bush from charges of “amnesty” as the 43rd president tried unsuccessfully to get immigration reform past Congress and warned ominously that the GOP risked losing Hispanic and Asian voters if they opposed him. His warnings proved correct.

Moore notably took on the Heritage Foundation on immigration reform just last year, in a Wall Street Journal piece on the economics of immigration. “There are few issues that economists agree on so universally,” Moore wrote. “The views of the Keynesians and free marketers ran equally about 9 to 1 in favor of immigration.”

It’s as we’ve been telling opponents of immigration reform all along: it will become law, sooner or later. The hiring of Stephen Moore, and the potential shift of the Heritage Foundation away from nativists like Jason Richwine, is one more sign that slow and steady is winning the race.

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