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Thanks to Jeff Sessions, CBO Scores Immigration Bill for 20 Years, Finds It Reduces Deficit By Almost $1 Trillion

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Congratulations, Jeff Sessions–you got your wish!

For weeks now, the junior Senator from Alabama — and leading anti-immigrant voice in the Senate — has been complaining about the upcoming Congressional Budget Office score for the Senate Gang of 8 bill.  The CBO usually scores a bill for 10 years, which Sessions didn’t think would be a long enough period of time to reflect his belief that immigrants are takers who are a drain on society.  Sessions specifically wrote a letter to Doug Elmendorf, the CBO Director, asking for a 20-year score.

Well, this afternoon the CBO released its score–for 20 years, from 2013 to 2033.  And here are the takeaways:

  • The bill will reduce deficits by $197 billion over 10 years.  This accounts for an increase in $262 billion in spending but an increase in revenue of $459 billion between 2014 and 2023.
  • In the 10 years after that (2023-2033), the bill would reduce the deficit by an additional $700 billion.  That’s almost $1 trillion in savings over the next 20 years.
  • That means that immigrants would contribute more to the economy as they became eligible for legalization and citizenship, contrary to claims like that from the Heritage Report, which assumes that immigrants will only grow dependent on benefits as they become legal residents and citizens.

In other words, on top of everything else, the immigration bill is in America’s best economic interests.  And if Jeff Sessions hadn’t pushed for a 20-year score, we wouldn’t have known how great the economic gains are.

As conservative economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin tweeted today, the “CBO report on Senate #immigration bill is a trifecta: growth, reduced deficits in short run, reduced deficits in long run.”

And for immigration reform opponents thinking about criticizing and downplaying the CBO score now that it’s out–and not to their liking–don’t even think about it.  Here’s a short list of anti-reform GOPers showing love to the CBO score in the past, when it suited them.

  • Chuck Grassley: “I say all the time that CBO is God around here, because policy lives and dies by CBO’s word.” (March 2006)
  • David Vitter, on the US budget outlook: “The new Congressional Budget Office report released today further highlights why president Obama and Harry Reid need to immediately start making spending cuts – including entitlement reforms. The report says government benefits, if not reformed, could literally to engulf our entire economy.” (June 2011)
  • Mike Lee: “CBO: Obama budget worse than projected on 10-year deficit. Projections only miscalculated by $2.3 Trillion.” (March 2011)