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June 07, 2007

Amnesty Follies: Spot The Lie

The CBO says that amnestied immigrants will more pay for themselves in taxes.

Oh really?

The CBO concluded that the cost of the bill in immigration-law enforcement, border controls and federal benefits to immigrants would be more than offset by tax payments -- especially Social Security tax payments -- from newly legalized workers. White House officials latched on to that finding as they continued to seek GOP support for the bill.

Did you see that as the White House, with an assist from the CBO and WaPo, whizzed that fastball right on by?

Social security payments are not used to pay the current operating costs of government. Rather, ultimately, they are dollars extracted from you so that the government can give you them back later in your life. It's all more complex than that, as current SS revenues are used to pay current retirees (and you yourself will have your SS benefits paid by future taxpayers), and of course the government routinely includes SS collections in its budgets in order to offset its massive current-operating-expenses deficits, but still, it's a lie. A dollar taken via SS collections is not "revenue" for the government. Every dollar taken creates a dollar of future obligation (more really, but whatever).

To claim that amnestied immigrants will "pay for themselves" in taxes when including their Social Security payments is to double-count their SS tax dollars twice, once towards current expenses, and again towards the future obligation incurred by including them in the system.

Why not just count each of those dollars ten times and claim that amnestied immigrants will bring in six or seven times the tax revenues they cost?

Also: the CBO seems to have not bothered to calculate the local tax/expenditure impact of amnestied immigrants. And you don't pay state or local Social Security taxes to help goose the numbers.

This is par for the course for Bush, of course, who seems to forever be employing the branch of advanced mathematics called bistromath in his budgeting.

But what will Mr. Straight Talk have to say about it? (That's a link to more Luntz focus-group hate on McCain, which I'd tipped Allah too earlier. Brutal stuff.)

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posted by Ace at 03:28 AM

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