WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement today regarding the Congressional Budget Office’s new estimate of the deficit impact of S. 744, the Gang of Eight immigration bill:
“The bill’s drafters relied on the same scoring gimmicks used by the Obamacare drafters to conceal its true cost from taxpayers and to manipulate the CBO score. There is a reason why eligibility for the most expensive federal benefits was delayed to fall mostly outside the scoring window: to mislead the public. As Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, I asked CBO to provide a long-term estimate. Sadly, CBO did not provide the long-term estimate as requested. As a result, the score effectively conceals some of the biggest long-term costs to taxpayers contained in this legislation, including providing illegal immigrants with Medicaid, food stamps, and cash welfare. Some members of Congress are already pushing efforts to expedite this eligibility.
Welfare and entitlement costs will increase across the lifespan of the illegal immigrants legalized under this legislation. 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. It defies logic and common sense for anyone to suggest there is not an enormous cost in choosing to provide welfare to those who are currently not eligible for these benefits.
CBO’s score also necessarily fails to capture one of the most significant fiscal impacts this bill would have: the immediate fiscal burden on cities and states. When illegal immigrants are first legalized, they will become almost instantly eligible for local and state programs at a great cost to taxpayers. These costs will be increased substantially by the unlimited chain migration that is called for under the bill.
Finally, on wages: it is natural that a large increase in the number of legal immigrants added to the United States—an increase of at least 46 million by 2033 according to CBO, including a doubling of the number of guest workers—will increase the GDP. But, as Dr. Borjas has illustrated and as CBO confirms, this increased GDP will be at the expense of poor and working-class Americans. The benefit will go to the business owners while the wages of U.S. workers—which should be growing—will instead decline. That is indisputable, and while CBO did not sort out the effects among U.S. residents, the impact will be harshest for today’s low-income Americans. Meanwhile, the 21 million Americans who can’t find full-time work will have an ever harder time getting a job and supporting their families. More of them will therefore qualify for means-tested benefits, adding to deficits.
This bill guarantees three things: amnesty, increased welfare costs, and lower wages for the U.S. workforce. It would be the biggest setback for poor and middle-class Americans of any legislation Congress has considered in decades.”
[A note on future flow: CBO predicts an increase above current law of 16 million by 2033, plus the legalization of 8 million illegal immigrants. According to the Census Bureau, there will be 22 million new immigrants under current law, which means CBO estimates that a total of 46 million immigrants would be granted legal status by 2033 under the Gang of Eight’s plan. CBO also confirms that the number of guest workers (approximately 700,000 in 2012) would more than double to 1.6 million.]