A large inflow of guest workers and university-trained immigrants would be good for politicians and special interests, says Google chairman Eric Schmidt.
“I’ve been trying to figure out, if you could wave a magic wand, what would you wave?” he asked. “And for politicians, it turns out that if you could just create a lot more jobs, most problems are solved, because more jobs means more revenue, which means more taxes,” he said.
The extra taxes “means more spending, which is always good for special interests,” he said a Wednesday event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute.
The extra inflow “is good for politicians, it’s more revenue, more jobs and so forth,” said Schmidt, who is a prominent supporter of President Barack Obama.
Even Americans can gain from additional skilled immigration, Schmidt added. “More jobs also means that people have a greater sense of identity, they have a greater sense of self-worth, they have income, a higher standard of living and so forth and so on,” he said.
However, Schmidt did not discuss immigration’s costs to Americans. Those costs include the transfer of some jobs and income from American professionals and their families.
Schmidt’s promise of gains for politicians came as he admitted his frustration at the politicians who have not boosted skilled immigration. “Twenty years we’ve tried to make that argument, and for 20 years we’ve lost,” he complained.
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By admitting 20 years of failure, Schmidt “has confirmed the fact that the public has a whole lot more votes than special interests,” said Roy Beck, founder of NumberUSA, an advocacy group that favors reduced immigration.
“The fact that the Senate’s subcommittee [on immigration] has been renamed the ‘Immigration and the National Interest’ committee is wonderful, because most immigration policy has been done with and for these fellows, not with Americans, but for special corporate interests,” Beck added.
But Schmidt insisted that politicians support increases in skilled immigration.
In Washington, “everyone actually agrees there should be more … visas [for guest workers and university-trained immigrants] in order to create more tech, more science, more analytical jobs,” he said. “Everyone agrees, in both parties.”
But that consensus is tangled up in other immigration fights, Schmidt complained. “You can never get a political solution because [skilled immigration] is seen as a good thing, and all of the other political issues involving immigration are difficult,” he said.
Those other issues include Democrats’ demands for an amnesty of the roughly 12 million illegal immigrants, many of whom will eventually vote Democratic if they’re given a path to the voting booth. Since the 1990s, Democrats have blocked GOP proposals to provide business groups with large numbers of lower-wage workers — unless the GOP also agrees to an amnesty that would provide Democrats with large numbers of lower-income voters.
Schmidt wants to break off the visa push from the legalization and low-skilled worker push.
“All I’m asking is separate out this specific thing, which will materially improve economic growth,” Schmidt asked. “Deal with the other immigration issues, which are very serious and very important, separately.”
Polls and ballots show that Obama’s executive amnesty is opposed by most Americans. That ballot-box opposition co-exists with public support for the legal immigration of 1 million people per year — including roughly 25,000 gifted experts granted “O-1 Visas” or “genius visas” — and even conditional public support for illegal immigrants.
Schmidt acknowledged some of those economic concerns. “There’s no question that there has been an increase in inequality … [in] the new gilded age,” he said. But, he added, “to me, that’s a public policy question.”
“Let capitalism do its thing. … People will sort this out” via politics, he said.
“In the long list of stupid policies of the U.S. government, I think our attitude towards immigration has got to be near the top,” Schmidt said.
“We just need to create more people in every industry,” he said. “Tech is obvious. … The explosion we’re going to see in biology and synthetic biology and in genetics and so forth will create a huge number of jobs,” he predicted.
“Look at fracking,” Schmidt added. “Fracking alone has created a very, very large revolution of jobs in America to much economic benefit,” he said.