The Senate Gang of 8 immigration bill received good news yesterday when the CBO reported that the legislation would save the country $197 billion in its first decade, and an additional $700 billion in the next 10 years after. Here’s a roundup of some of the commentary today on what the score means:
From Ezra Klein at the Washington Post Wonkblog:
This isn’t just a good CBO report. It’s a wildly good CBO report. They’re basically saying immigration reform is a free lunch: It cuts the deficit by growing the economy. It makes Americans better off and it makes immigrants better off. At a time when the U.S. economy desperately needs a bit of help, this bill, according to the CBO, helps. And politically, it forces opponents of the bill onto the ground they’re least comfortable occupying: They have to argue that immigration reform is bad for cultural or ethical reasons rather than economic ones.
From Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas at the Washington Post Wonkblog:
Ultimately, the CBO report rips a layer of artifice from the immigration debate. Few critics of immigration reform really base their opposition on concerns about the deficit or the economy. Their real concern with immigration is cultural and sociological. But that’s dangerous political ground. It’s easier to frame opposition using the bloodless language of the budget than the combustible language of national character and composition.
That’s the real damage the CBO did to the anti-immigration caucus. It took the bloodless language of the budget away from them. It left them only with their real concerns — the ones they’d prefer not to emphasize. That will perhaps lead to a slightly more truthful debate about immigration reform, but one that is much more dangerous for the anti-reform side, and for the Republican Party.
From the White House, in a statement:
Today, we have more proof that bipartisan commonsense immigration reform will be good for economic growth and deficit reduction: this time, in the form of a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimate.
From Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), a member of the Gang of 8:
This report is a huge momentum boost for immigration reform. This debunks the idea that immigration reform is anything other than a boon to our economy, and robs the bill’s opponents of one of their last remaining arguments.
From Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), also a member of the Gang of 8:
The CBO has further confirmed what most conservative economists have found: reforming our immigration system is a net benefit for our economy, American workers and taxpayers.
From Markos Moulitsas at Daily Kos:
Not a good day for opponents of comprehensive immigration reform, who have been arguing that legalization would explode the deficit. The reality? It’s one of the best deficit-cutting measures on the table.
Tellingly, the (non)response from Republicans is to just tell people not to pay any attention to the bill. Jeff Sessions–the man who inadvertently made the report better by asking for a 20-year score in the first place, predictably now claims that the score is flawed:
CBO did not provide enough information to assess the assumptions it made about the educational background of illegal immigrants and thus their methodology may be substantially flawed. An accurate analysis would acknowledge that half of that population does not have high school degrees, and is therefore more likely to receive far more in government support than they will pay in the form of taxes. For every dollar a low-income illegal immigrant might pay in either taxes or payroll contributions, he or she could easily receive two dollars back from the government in the form of public assistance for their household.
The Heritage Foundation has been claiming complete falsehoods about the CBO score, including the excerpt below where they claim that CBO only scored for 10 years (when they very clearly scored for 20). The Heritage Foundation is the group that released a heavily-criticized report of its own last month, which premised that immigrants are takers and a drain on society, and thus found a very different conclusion from the CBO’s score. (And that was before one of the Heritage Report’s co-authors, Jason Richwine, was found to have believed that Latinos inherently have lower IQs.)
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.
And some Republicans are now claiming that they never liked CBO much anyway:
Just got an email from a House Republican reminding me that none of them trust CBO, so this doesn’t much matter to them.
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) June 18, 2013