Opinion

Rector’s report is legitimate and has profound implications

Photo of Rep. Steve King
Rep. Steve King
Member of Congress (R-IA)
  • See All Articles
  • Subscribe to RSS
  • Bio

      Rep. Steve King

      Steve King grew up in a law enforcement family in Storm Lake, Iowa. He attended Denison Community High School, where he met Marilyn Kelly, whom he married in 1972. They have lived in Kiron for 32 years and are members of St. Martin’s Church in Odebolt. Steve and Marilyn have three grown sons and three grandchildren.

      King studied math and science at Northwest Missouri State University. He started King Construction in 1975 and built the business up from one bulldozer. He brings valuable knowledge to Congress as an agribusinessman and a small business owner for 28 years. King’s oldest son now runs the construction business.

      He served in the Iowa State Senate for six years where he assumed roles as Chairman of the State Government Committee and Vice Chairman of the Oversight Budget Subcommittee. He was a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Judiciary Committee, Business and Labor Committee and the Commerce Committees. He worked in the State Senate to successfully eliminate the inheritance tax, enforce workplace drug testing, enforce parenting rights, including parental notification of abortion, pass tax cuts for working Iowans, and pass the law that made English the official language in Iowa.

      King was elected to Congress in 2002 to represent Iowa’s new fifth congressional district. He brings the concerns and ideas from people of the fifth district with him to work on the Agriculture Committee. He has long been dedicated to adding value as close to the corn stalk and bean stubble as possible, as many times as possible. The Fifth District ranks first in the nation for hogs and pigs and is one of the most productive areas in the nation for renewable fuels. King’s very first bill in Congress was an expansion of a tax credit to small ethanol and biodiesel producers. His language was included in the Energy Users Act of 2005, which President George W. Bush recently signed into law.

      As 97% of Iowa’s businesses are small business, King received a special waiver to serve on the House Small Business Committee so he could work to restrict government regulations that impede the growth of business and jobs.

      King is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, where he sits on the Constitution Subcommittee and is the top Republican on the Immigration Subcommittee. He believes the Constitution means what it says and that it should be read in light of the intent of our founding fathers. King is never caught without a copy of the Constitution in his coat pocket.

      King also chairs the Conservative Opportunity Society, a powerful and legendary House caucus that is best known for energizing Republicans to regain the majority of the House of Representatives in 1994.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once said, “You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state.” More recently, the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector, a laudable scholar in his own right, proved that Friedman’s claim is true. According to Rector’s exhaustive new report, released earlier this month, the net cost of first-generation amnesty will be $6.3 trillion.

Rector’s $6.3 trillion bottom-line number was produced by calculating the number of illegal immigrants who eventually would be eligible for the over 80 means-tested federal welfare programs if an amnesty were passed, and then calculating how much their use of those programs would cost taxpayers. He also factored in every tax and fee amnesty recipients might pay over their lifetimes: from tobacco excise taxes at the state level to federal income taxes. Rector did not include the cost of crime.

Rector found that the current population of illegal immigrants (and the next generation) will never be net contributors to the government’s coffers. Just 5 out of 12 illegal immigrants are currently working, and while that number might grow if they are legalized, they will never come close to paying into the system as much as they draw down. In fact, Rector estimates that they will fall short by $6.3 trillion. Eventually, that cost will drive the U.S. into a crippling debt crisis.

Six-point-three trillion dollars is a staggering number, but it was calculated using very reasonable assumptions. No one knows how many illegal immigrants are in this country, but the lowest estimate (barely above the number counted by the census) is 11.5 million — the number Rector used. In other words, $6.3 trillion is the floor, not the ceiling, for amnesty’s cost.

Rector’s unassailable method is the only holistic approach available to policymakers, and it would be irresponsible to ignore it in favor of approaches that consider only a few variables.

The study’s implications are profound. It raises questions not only about amnesty’s fiscal costs, but also about the origins of the amnesty proposal before Congress. Comprehensive immigration reform barely registered as an issue in the 2012 presidential election, but still some Republicans have chosen to run toward amnesty. They are obviously concerned more for their own re-election or future political aspirations than they are for the federal budget and the Rule of Law. They are making a political decision, not a decision based on sound policy.

Consider this: The Senate is holding hearings on a bill that will result in $9.4 trillion of new government spending (and $3.1 trillion in new revenue). Who will we spend this money on and what is their claim to that money? The single factor that puts illegal immigrants in a position to receive these handouts is the fact they violated the law. The only reason given by the legislation itself as to why we should open up our wallets, indebting our children beyond the conscionable, is that the illegal immigrants broke our laws. Their only claim to the same rights and entitlements afforded to Americans is their geographic location — which they came by illegally.

Since I arrived in Congress a decade ago, I have firmly supported the Rule of Law as a matter of principle. Rector’s research has allowed Congress to consider the real consequences of failing to stand on principle.

Friedman was right when he observed that a country can’t have open borders and a welfare state. Unlike during earlier waves of immigration, today the United States is a cradle-to-grave welfare state. If Congress passes what would likely be the largest amnesty in history, America will no longer be a shining city on a hill that inspires other nations to excellence, but 50 states with no hope of ever restoring the Rule of Law and a dramatically increased and empowered dependency class — the exact definition of the Obama constituency.

Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, is a member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Border Security.