Politics
FILE - In this April 18, 2013 file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. take questions during a news conference on immigration reform legislation, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Administration aids immigration advocates with $310 billion claim

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama’s Social Security Administration has given the Senate’s immigration bill a boost by writing a letter saying the bill would help the Social Security trust fund.

The letter was sent by the agency’s actuary, Steven Goss, to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who released it to spur support for the far-reaching bill.

The two-page letter was released one day after the Heritage Foundation released a 92-page study that calculated a five-decade, $6.3 trillion cost for one aspect of the pending bill, the planned amnesty for 11 million low-skill illegals.

The bill would add 3.22 million people to employment rolls, said the administration letter, which also said that the calculations were prepared in cooperation with a Rubio staffer during the three weeks since the bill was released April 17.

A chart sent by the administration to Rubio said the bill would increase the nation’s immigrant population by 5.4 million, legalize 7.8 million unlawful immigrants, and increase the immigrant working population by 6.5 million.

Social Security revenue would increase by $340 billion, but Medicare and Social Security spending would rise by $30 billion over the decade, according to the chart.

“Overall, we anticipate that the net effect of this bill on the long range [Social Security] actuarial balance will be positive,” said the letter, which did not provide an explanation of its calculations.

“Whether it’s Social Security or immigration, leaving [the] status quo in place will be disastrous,” said a 4:45 p.m. EST tweet from Rubio’s office.

The bill’s promise of extra tax revenue was enthusiastically broadcast by advocates of the bill. “Dear @Heritage, #Immigration bill would boost economy. Love, Social Security Admin,” said a 5:11 p.m. EST tweet from Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, which favors large-scale immigration.

But GOP activists quickly pushed back. The administration’s “preliminary analysis does not conclude that the immigration bill will have a net positive impact on the U.S. Treasury,” because it can’t review the costs of a myriad other federal and state programs, said a statement from Andrew Logan, a press secretary for Sen. Jeff Sessions, the leading GOP member of the Senate Budget Committee.

Also, the report “appears to have been conducted under a series of very favorable parameters … it assumes that [border] enforcement mechanisms will be implemented faithfully … [and] appears to exclude some low-skill visa categories that might pull down the net number,” said Logan’s statement.

The Heritage study focused only on the bill’s offer of residency to roughly 11 million illegal immigrants.

Most of the illegals are low-skilled, so they cost taxpayers roughly $1 trillion more than they can provide in taxes once they qualify for benefits after about 1o years, said the Heritage report.

The study is titled “The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer.”

The study predicts low-skilled immigrants will be a drain on Social Security funds, and will only provide $3 trillion in taxes to offset $9.3 trillion in government aid.

Newly legalized illegals who are employed would pay an average of $3,770 in Social Security taxes, or $132,000 over 35 years, Heritage reported. Assuming “18 years of retirement, the total Social Security and Medicare benefits received by this individual would come to $445,000 … [so] other taxpayers, including many Social Security recipients, will face higher taxes in order to subsidize unlawful immigrant households,” it concluded.

Heritage officials said their estimate likely understates the cost of the bill, which will also invite millions of additional low-skill foreigners to join their relatives in the United States.

The Social Security Administration’s estimate of population growth is also smaller than other groups’ estimates.

The administration letter says the bill will increase the population by 5 million.