Comment: Speed Bumps To CIR Continue

CIR continues to move forward in the Senate - the latest indication is a Politico story titled "Biden: Gun control to wait for immigration". After years and years of being told to wait, immigration advocates are now in the pleasant position of being the ones getting the attention, instead of being the ones doing the waiting. However, there are speed bumps, as is natural for any large piece of legislation. The latest hiccup is over a report released by The Heritage Foundation styled "The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer" which alleges that the legalization component of CIR will cost the US $6.3 trillion. Fortunately, not many Republicans in Congress are likely to be swayed by this latest gambit from the anti-immigrant folks. Nevertheless, we would like to state for the record that we believe that this report is flawed, and unworthy of consideration in the debate over CIR, our reasons are as follows:



  1. The report relies on voodoo economics


  2. The report's core argument is against re-distribution, not against legalization


  3. Accepting the report's argument leads to the opposite conclusion than the report does



We detail each of the above in a few lines below.


(1) The report relies on voodoo economics


There is a reason that the Congressional Budget Office does not score bills more than 10 years into the future. The reason is that forecasting is a hazardous venture, and the farther out the forecast, the greater the uncertainty in its conclusions. The Heritage Foundation report blithely looks many decades ahead to make sweeping economic calculations. Among the various disciplines concerned with the future, economics has a particularly bad track record - as anyone who has been a victim of the housing meltdown can attest (also among the attestors: the jobless over the past few years, who have the futurists and risk forecasters at the big banks to thank for making Americans jobless). To forecast beyond any reasonable period of time is a foolish enterprise - if there are any in Congress who are taken in by the Heritage Foundation's voodoo economics, we have bridges on Mars and Jupiter available for sale...real cheap...just $6.3 trillion each!


(2) The report's core argument is against re-distribution, not against legalization


Ignoring its waaay out in the future numbers, the Heritage Foundation report makes many claims in the here and now, as also in the immediate future. All of its claims are, at their core, an argument against re-distribution. The entire thrust of the Heritage Foundation's argument is that legalization is bad because it would lead to more re-distribution. The report states that households headed by the college educated produce net tax revenues whereas all other households in America are net negatives to the government, their costs must be subsided by the households headed by the college educated. Since most of the undocumented are not college educated, the report concludes that they would be net consumers of government services, and hence somehow undesirable. Even setting aside the merits, or lack thereof, of the anti-re-distributive argument, we challenge why should undocumented Americans be especially singled out for disparate attention on the re-distribution front. The Heritage Foundation report takes for granted that the undocumented are inherently morally unworthy of attention merely because Congress failed to provide for a legal channel for their migration hither. Only if one accepts this false moral assessment does the rest of the conclusion of the report follow. Immigration Daily does not accept the Heritage Foundation’s false moral assessment. If anyone should be deported from America, it should be the crazy authors of this report, not any undocumented Americans.


(3) Accepting the report's argument leads to the opposite conclusion than the report does


One sign of bad logic is that accepting it for the purposes of argument leads to the opposite conclusion than the proponents of bad logic suggest. Let us follow that line of analysis for this report (in mathematics, this is called the reducio ad absurdum method). Let us accept, arguendo, the report's central argument - that legalization would lead to a massive increase in re-distribution, and that re-distribution, in and of itself, is a bad thing. Surely then, a public policy ending all re-distribution would be the best public policy - the authors of the Heritage Foundation report would laud a policy to end re-distribution, even more than they decry legalization (since the fiscal benefits to taxpayers of stopping re-distribution in America are far, far greater than $6.3 trillion). If that is what the authors want, then legalization is the best possible way to get the country into an anti-re-distributive mood. Just as the best way to stop an unjust law is to enforce it (thus leading to massive public backlash), analogously it follows that if re-distribution is so bad, lets increase it to the nth degree by legalization, thus ensuring that the resultant public backlash will stop re-distribution at its root. The cost of legalization, $6.3 trillion, is a mere bagatelle as compared to the tens of trillions the US can save through ending re-distribution. We challenge the authors of the Heritage Foundation report to propose a more effective way of ending re-distribution (which they take for granted is bad public policy per se). Thus is the Heritage Foundation report reduced to the absurdity that it is.


In conclusion, the Heritage Foundation report is a scam. Thankfully, it appears that it is an ineffective scam. The march of CIR in the Senate continues. Share your thoughts by writing to editor@ilw.com.








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