Administration aids immigration advocates with $310 billion claim

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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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.

But that number downplays the bill’s award of residency to many of the at least 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country, its offer of early visas to 4.5 million foreigners now waiting for residency permits, plus the current inflow of 1 million people per year.

The Center for American Progress, an advocacy group aligned with the White House, released a report April 30 offering a similar 5 million prediction.

Philip Wolgin, one of the coauthors of the CAP report, also told The Daily Caller that the group’s prediction assumes that foreign populations will not use all the immigration opportunities offered by the bill.

In contrast, NumbersUSA, an advocacy groups that wishes to reduce the current level of immigration, said the bill would combine with existing laws to add 33.5 million people to the population over 10 years. That’s roughly 20 million more people than would legally arrive during the decade if the bill does not pass.

The SSA letter also says the 5 million extra immigrants would add only 3.22 million jobs to the economy after 10 years.

Currently, 20 million Americans are unemployed and underemployed.

The inflow of immigrants since 2000 hasn’t spurred the creation of many new jobs, said Steve Camarota, the research director at the Center for Immigration Studies.

Since 2000, “census bureau data from this year shows at least 16 million new immigrants have settled in this country, and yet over that time, job creation was just 4 million … [and] the share of Americans holding a job has declined,” he said.

“The last 13 years make clear that large-scale immigration does not necessarily result in large-scale job growth,” he said. If the bill passes, he said, “we would have to more than double the [job-creation] pace we’re on [and that] doesn’t seem to be at all realistic.”

“I don’t think the evidence supports Camarota’s contention,” said Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration advocate at the Cato Institute.

Immigrants enlarge the economy “on the supply side of the economy by increasing the amount of production possible and on the demand side of the economy buy buying goods and services from Americans,” he told The Daily Caller.

“There are a lot of problems with the American economy caused by too much government, too high taxes, and too much regulation,” he added. “We should seek to lessen the regulatory burden by decreasing the government’s role in immigration and elsewhere.”

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