Whistling Past the Fiscal Graveyard

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on June 3, 2013

Some amnesty proponents on the right have made the ludicrous suggestion that we somehow can wave a magic wand and reduce the U.S. welfare state. That, they suggest, would reduce the humongous costs of amnesty to our country and American taxpayers. Well, don't hold your breath for this cost liability reduction to happen.

Thus, the notion that the Schumer-Rubio amnesty bill won't set welfare and entitlement spending on a rising spiral amounts to whistling past a graveyard.

The cynical Gang of Eight has designed the amnesty to have a less voracious fiscal appetite over the first 10 years. But that's merely budgetary smoke and mirrors — the kind that fiscal hawks normally would subject to withering chastisement for its cynicism and dishonesty. Ten years is the period the Congressional Budget Office will "score" the costs of the bill. So CBO's cost estimate will, by design, underestimate the true costs that amnesty will saddle America with.

The leading expert in welfare cost matters, bar none, is Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation. Mr. Rector has a long, established, respected, impeccable track record on these matters. The fact that he knows what he's doing, the fact that he's used the same methodology as the National Academy of Sciences, and the inconvenient truth that the inescapable numbers are of so phenomenally great magnitude has resulted in a firestorm toward Mr. Rector's estimates — including by some people who should know better and whom you'd expect to be intellectually honest.

Mr. Rector calculates all the taxes amnestied alien lawbreakers will pay over their lifetimes and the total benefits and services they will collect from government over the same period. To no honest person's surprise, illegal aliens granted amnesty will pay a total of $3.1 trillion in taxes, but collect government handouts totaling $9.4 trillion. The net cost of the Schumer-Rubio amnesty is $6.3 trillion over 50 years.

In other words, illegals who get amnesty will cost American taxpayers three times as much as those aliens themselves pay in all the taxes they pay. That works out to the average amnesty recipient's household collecting a net of more than $35,000 every single year! If Mr. Rector were somehow off by half, that still means illegals who get legalized will collect far more in government benefits redistributed from productive Americans than the aliens pay in all taxes.

Amnesty advocates bear the burden of proof of ensuring that their legislation won't drive our nation into deeper and deeper debt and deficits than we already face. Bottom line, mass amnesty a la Schumer-Rubio would make the oppressive costs of Obamacare and Medicaid expansion pale in comparison.