The Long Run Is Pure Speculation

More Misinformation rom the Media:

According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year. . . . [It] found that in 2013, the total fiscal shortfall (calculated as the excess of government expenditures over taxes) was $279 billion for first generation immigrants and $109 billion for the second generation. These figures represent deficits to the local, state and federal budgets combined. . . . [But] there’s a lot of other information in the study that gives context to these figures—and shows that immigration has an overall positive impact on the U.S. economy in the long run. The report found that over 75 years, each immigrant represents $259,000 in net present value for federal, state and local governments. – Trump’s Claim that Immigrants cost Taxpayers Many billions of dollars a Year, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, The Washington Post Fact Checker 3/7/17.

Fact Check: It is inaccurate to suggest that the 75 year net fiscal benefit was the definite conclusion of the NAS report. It was only the result of a certain set of assumptions; other assumptions led to the conclusion of a long term fiscal loss. If this sounds like simple guesswork, that’s exactly what it is. And no one makes this point plainer than Harvard economist George Borjas. A recognized authority on the impact of immigration, Borjas was one of the panel members who produced the NAS report.

He stated, “I think there is an elephant in the room that the NAS report alludes to, but cannot bring itself to say out loud. So I will: All estimates of the long-run fiscal impacts are useless.”

He added, “Don’t be fooled by the [Congressional Budget Office] “experts who claim to know how taxes and expenditures will evolve over the next 75 years. Those same experts couldn’t even predict Obamacare enrollment just a few months ago. What do they really know about taxes and expenditures in the year 2075? . . .  Regardless of scenario, it’s obvious that low-skill immigrants impose a fiscal burden in the long run, but that immigrants with at least a college education are financially beneficial.”

Only a small share of immigrants under current policy are selected on the basis of skills and education. To a large extent, as one researcher noted, we have a policy of “importing poverty.” It is a policy certain to cause fiscal strain.

In any case, the fiscal liabilities of immigration recorded in the NAS study comes from a study of what is real and measurable. The fiscal assets cited, to reference Borjas again, are useless and indeed worthless speculation. If the Post writer understands this difference, she must surely hope that readers of the Post will not.


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