Why Wouldn't a Politician Want to Take $2 Billion a Year from Non-Voters and Give It to Voters?

By David North on June 5, 2020

The president, with a stroke of a pen, and without spending a dime of taxpayers' money, or even borrowing (from our grandkids), can give $2 billion a year to voters while raising the money exclusively from non-voters.

At the very same time, he can open up 150,000 or so good jobs for recent U.S. college grads, voters all.

And who will the extra money go to? Our elderly, our sick, and our unemployed. Another group of voters.

And who will be annoyed at this move? Some university deans and other educators who are highly unlikely to vote for him anyway.

Further, what I have in mind will involve something the president loves to do, which is to dismantle programs favored by the Obama administration.

The Trump campaign manager might say: "That sounds great, tell me more," and "Are you sure the government has not done this already?"

The answer to the second comment is a firm "no." The administration, through a lack of imagination, has not touched the Optional Practical Training program, which subsidizes employers to hire foreign grads of U.S. colleges rather than American college grads.

That's right, there is a federal program that pays out $2 billion every year to foreign alumni and their employers — no U.S. citizen, or an employer of such a citizen, need apply.

Where does the money come from? That is virtually a secret as far as the media is concerned, but it is drawn from funds intended to support the Social Security, Medicare, and Federal-State Unemployment Insurance trust funds. These funds are supported by payroll deductions, and the alien alums and their employers are excused from payroll taxes.

Let's look at this strange formula from an electoral point of view. This is money lavished on the alien alumni (who cannot vote) and on the corporations that hire them, another set of non-voters. It is taken away from the distressed Americans (90 percent-plus or more of whom are eligible to vote) who benefit from the work of the trust funds.

Ours is not a proposal for a new law that would have to pass Congress. No taxes would be raised, or money borrowed. OPT was established by the Bush II administration as an administrative sleight-of-hand, and expanded by the Obama administration. Trump could undo it in a day.

In technical terms, what the Bush/Obama administrations did was to define F-1 visa-bearing alien alumni, some for a single year, and some for three years, as continuing to be students who do not pay payroll taxes or do their employers. They did not extend that tax break to U.S. alumni and their employers.

Abolishing OPT or seriously shrinking it can be handled with a minimum of fuss as we pointed out in an earlier posting.

All the Trump White House has to do is to tell Big Education as well as some employers that "Sorry, that $2 billion a year is going to spent on our elderly, our infirm, and our unemployed — as well some citizen college grads."

It is a message that will work well on the campaign trail. All of the benefits of this change will go to voters, and all the costs will be borne by non-voters.

What candidate could ask for more?

Footnote: On June 5, Law360 reported on efforts by some to keep Optional Practical Training going, including statements that the nation's economic health depended on it.

Once again, in a long article on the program, there was no reference to the financial incentive employers have — the lack of payroll taxes — to hire foreign grads of U.S. colleges rather than American ones. The media simply will not admit this.