Sessions: SOTU Message Undermined By President’s Wage-Depressing Policies

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, delivered the following prepared remarks on the Senate floor regarding President Obama’s expected call for the House to pass an immigration bill that would dramatically increase the number of low-skilled workers brought into the country:

“President Obama is preparing to deliver a State of the Union Address in which he will address the continued financial collapse of the American middle class, much of which has occurred on his watch. It started before he took office, but it has accelerated since 2009. If the President wishes to demonstrate a sincere concern for struggling workers, then he must recognize the negative impact his immigration policies are having on wage-earners throughout the country.

According to Harvard Professor George Borjas, the nation’s leading expert on immigration (and himself a Cuban immigrant), every dollar of increased profit for companies that use immigrant labor is offset by a dollar in lost wages for the Americans competing with immigrant labor. The law of supply and demand dictates that an increased supply of workers will result in a reduced cost for hiring those workers.

The President’s push for new federal wage controls and extended unemployment benefits is effectively an admission that his policies have cut wages and reduced employment. But these measures are really only treating the symptoms. The nation cannot return to full employment and rising wages for workers at all skill levels without tightening the labor market.

Gene Sperling, the President’s economic advisor, says there are three unemployed Americans for every one job opening. The U.S. has already formally admitted more immigrants, largely lesser-skilled, in the last 10 years than any prior 10-year period in its history. So the question every reporter, pundit, and lawmaker should ask is this: how does the President think it will help Americans trying to climb into the middle class to pass an immigration plan that would double the number of immigrant workers competing against them for wages and jobs?

The single largest category in our budget right now is welfare and poverty support programs. Including state contributions, my Budget Committee staff has discovered that we spend more than a trillion dollars each year on federal means-tested support programs. A record 1 in 5 households received food stamps in 2013, the majority of them working-age. Our urgent national mission is to begin transitioning these struggling workers into good jobs with rising wages. Instead, the President proposes to increase federal spending even more to sustain millions on welfare, while increasing lower-skilled immigration to take available jobs.

House leaders are reportedly rushing to assemble a plan that is similar to the President’s. This would be the worst thing they could do at such a time. Instead, Republicans must expose the President’s disastrous policies and advocate a new direction that promotes assimilation, rising wages, and a growing middle class for all Americans.”