Immigration Reform Reax: That CBO Study

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The big news in immigration reform yesterday: The Congressional Budget Office report that shows the Gang of Eight's bill would shave nearly $200 billion off the deficit over 10 years.

Ezra Klein calls the numbers "wildly good":


The bill’s overall effect on the overall economy is unambiguously positive: CBO expects real GDP to increase by 3.3 percent by 2023 and by 5.4 percent in 2033. The reasoning here is a bit more complex: It’s not just that the bill would mean more workers, but that it would mean more productive workers. CBO says that the law would “lead to slightly higher productivity of both labor and capital because the increase in immigration — particularly of highly skilled immigrants — would tend to generate additional technological advancements, such as new inventions and improvements in production processes.”

This isn’t just a good CBO report. It’s a wildly good CBO report. They’re basically saying immigration reform is a free lunch: It cuts the deficit by growing the economy. It makes Americans better off and it makes immigrants better off. At a time when the U.S. economy desperately needs a bit of help, this bill, according to the CBO, helps. And politically, it forces opponents of the bill onto the ground they’re least comfortable occupying: They have to argue that immigration reform is bad for cultural or ethical reasons rather than economic ones.

Perhaps the best evidence of how unambiguously positive this report is for the law comes from the reaction of some House Republicans to the estimate. “Just got an e-mail from a House Republican reminding me that none of them trust CBO, so this doesn’t much matter to them,” tweets Politico’s Jake Sherman.

Tucson Tea Party founder Trent Humphries directed The Range's attention to a detail in the CBO report noted by the Washington Times:

On one hand, the boost in federal revenue over the next decade, which the CBO said will total $197 billion, will help quell concerns that taxpayers will be stuck with a large bill. But the CBO’s estimate that the bill solves only about a quarter of the illegal immigration problem will undercut the sponsors’ claims that they are serious about border security and interior enforcement.

The CBO said the bill does include stiffer enforcement and workplace checks, which will make a dent in illegal immigration. But the nonpartisan agency said it expects many guest workers will refuse to go home when their time is up, meaning that illegal immigration will continue.

“Other aspects of the bill would probably increase the number of unauthorized residents — in particular, people overstaying their visas issued under the new programs for temporary workers,” the agency said. “CBO estimates that, under the bill, the net annual flow of unauthorized residents would decrease by about 25 percent relative to what would occur under current law.”

That works out to about 1.6 million fewer people in the U.S. in 2023 than would otherwise come, and about 2.5 million fewer people by 2033.

Here's a link to the CBO report itself for those who want to dig in.

In other news: Talking Points Memo reports that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is probably a no vote on reform:


The freshman senator railed against the so-called Gang of Eight legislation in the Senate on Rush Limbaugh's talk radio show, arguing that Hispanic Texans who were polled actually preferred a plan for work permits without citizenship over blanket legalization of undocumented immigrants.

"This is a crock being sold to Republican politicians so they can just buy off Hispanic voters," Cruz said.

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