CBO: Immigration Reform Boosts Federal Revenue

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has issued a report that should provide serious ammunition for Democrats and moderate Republicans who are pushing the immigration reform bill. The report concludes that passing S. 774 would raise federal revenue and reduce the deficit pretty significantly.

CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that enacting S. 744 would generate changes in direct spending and revenues that would decrease federal budget deficits by $197 billion over the 2014–2023 period (see Table 1 on page 12). CBO also estimates that implementing the legislation would result in net discretionary costs of $22 billion over the 2014–2023 period, assuming appropriation of the amounts authorized or otherwise needed to implement the legislation. Combining those figures would lead to a net savings of about $175 billion over the 2014–2023 period from enacting S. 744.

The biggest reason: $459 billion in additional federal revenue during that time period that would result from moving immigrants from the underground, non-tax paying economy to the legitimate economy. And projecting further out looks even better, with estimates that it would reduce the deficit by $700 billion between 2023 and 2033. So it doesn’t just make political sense, it makes economic sense too.

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  • Ben P

    The biggest reason: $459 billion in additional federal revenue

    Except yesterday an amendment to the deal designed to attract more republicans would spend in excess of $50 billion of this additional revenue doubling enforcement agents on the Mexican border.

  • Trebuchet

    But..but…but…don’t you know all those lazy wetbacks are just coming here to get their hands on our welfare???!! It’s JUST like Nazi Germany. Somehow.


    Note: I just typed two different homophones in place of “their” in the above sentence. Almost left them there, it kind of fit!

  • Chiroptera

    Trebuchet is correct. If only good conservatives weren’t too afraid to speak out against immigration reform.

  • Trebuchet

    And just two posts later on this very blog, we have this headline:

    Beck, Kobach: Immigration Advocates Just Like Nazis, KKK

  • Trebuchet:

    Even worse, they’re coming to take ur jerbs! While collecting that welfare, of course.

  • Don Williams

    1) I think the CBO accounting is intentionally dishonest –as is most federal accounting.

    2) The USA has a finite supply of resources: land, agricultural land, National Parks,

    water, mineral ores, fossil fuels, JOBS,etc. Increase the population by 20 million and

    you reduce the share of existing Americans in America by 7% –although you will

    probably make the Richest 2% richer since they will have a bigger supply of serfs.

    3) Plus the USA incurs roughly $3.3 Trillion (present value) in Social Security obligations

    and $2.6 Trillion (present value) in Medicare obligations. In theory, those will be offset

    by payroll taxes on the 20 million immigrants’ earnings but if that theory was working,

    Social Security and Medicare would not be $40 Trillion in the hole at present.

    So the CBO cheerfully lists as a credit the payroll taxes from the New 20 Million over the

    next 20 years — while taking NO account of the far higher obligations (future debt)

    correspondingly incurred.

    4) Of course, the Supreme Court has noted that Social Security and Medicare are

    really a Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme anyway. That while Democratic politicans have

    been telling us for decades that we were paying into personal retirement “accounts” with assets,

    the reality is that we have NO legal right to those assets.

    Which is fortunate, since the assets don’t exist anyway. In 2001, George W Bush and 12

    Democratic Senators voted to give the existing assets in the Trust Funds to the Rich as tax cuts.

    5) While it is true they gave you a government bond in return for the money they

    stole from you, that bond is an obligation on YOU –not on the Rich. I.e, you get back

    $100,000 or so only if you first pay the government ANOTHER $100,000 in taxes

    so that it can redeem the bond and pay you the $100,000 in benefits.

    By the strangest coincidence, all the assets in your middle class IRA/401K life savings

    can be taxed at as high a rate as the government wants — at 99 % if need be.

    Meanwhile the Fifth Amendment prohibits the government from “taking” the wealth of the

    Rich. Amazing how that works, huh?

    6) Back in March 2001, I sent 3 letters to the New York Times –the “liberal” newspaper–

    pointing out item 5. They chose to not warn the Rabble, for some reason.

    Maybe because the Times’ wealthy owners’ need for the tax cut money overrode their strong sense

    of loyalty and deep emotional ties to the common blue collar Democratic voter.

    Amazing how often that happens.

  • CaitieCat

    Back in March 2001, I sent 3 letters to the New York Times –the “liberal” newspaper–

    pointing out item 5. They chose to not warn the Rabble, for some reason.

    Clear evidence of the Bilderbergs holding you down, man. I recommend a frontal assault on Fort Knox, led by you personally.

  • Johnny Vector

    Shorter Don Williams: “Immigrants are too gonna take all our money! It must be true because I don’t understand macroeconomics.”

  • @ Don Williams: How does the US have a finite supply of jobs? If you increase the population, all those new people need places to live, stuff to eat, bicycles, cars, etc and that all means there’s more work to go around.

  • I’m sure all fifty “moderate” Republicans (so important and powerful and unified that the Tuesday Group is, um, informal) will be heartened to know about this while they’re trying to figure out how to do the right thing without getting primaried (“Congressman So Andso voted for Barack Hussein Obama’s amnesty program. Congressman So Andso thinks that illegal immigrants stealing your jobs is a good thing. Who does Congressman So Andso really work for? Congressman So Andso; bad for [this state], bad for America. [This ad paid for by Americans for Liberty and Baseball and Also Apple Pie]”), keeping in mind they’re so moderate that only ten members of the GOP in the House voted against the Ryan budget (and at least four of those were because the bill wasn’t dystopian enough).

    The party is still going to do everything it can to sink it or poison it to the point that even if it passes it won’t matter. That’s what it does. Government’s success is the GOP’s failure.

  • Moon Jaguar

    @ Don Williams:

    So 20 million more immigrants will gobble up our finite resources? That’s odd, because Rush Limbaugh and other wingnuts are wailing over 50 million aborted babies who, if born, they claim would generate enough tax revenue to save Social Security AND Medicare.

    I guess dead babies are makers and immigrants are takers.

  • frankniddy

    This reminds me of SNAP; it’s good economically and is the right thing to do, and people oppose it only out of spite for their fellow human beings.

  • Don Williams

    Hmmm. With the Democratic Party advised by such macroeconomic geniuses, I’m puzzled why the black community has suffered 15% unemployment in the five years since the Democrats were given the White House, a huge supermajority in the House and a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.

    And why the median wage has fallen.

    I remember some of the same arguments being made by Bill Clinton for NAFTA. But last time I checked,

    billionaire Carlos Slim wasn’t on a massive hiring spree in Detroit.

    Maybe someone can get Larry Summers, Sandy Weill, Robert Rubin and Bill Clinton to explain to me how admitting 20 million more people will encourage our plutocrats to raise wages and find jobs for the 25 million Americans currently unemployed. After they finish explaining how repealing Glass Steagall was such a good deal for the American People.

  • Johnny Vector

    Why is Don Williams blaming wage stagnation and unemployment on immigration reform that hasn’t yet happened? Everyone knows it’s really because Avengers 2 is going to be such a horrific disappointment that it will retroactively destroy the movie industry, and by extension all of the American economy, starting with AIG.

    Seriously, Don, could you try to make points that actually follow each other?

    Also… “explain to me how admitting 20 million more people will encourage…” Admitting. Nice choice of word there. I assume you mean it in the sense of allowing more people into the country. But it’s really the other meaning that applies: acknowledging that they are already here, and here to stay.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    First the gays insisted on getting their blackmail/protection money back from the NY Cops. But I wasn’t a tenner, so I did not speak out. Then they came for their diagnosis. And I did not speak out, because I was not a copy of the DSM. Next they came for their health care, and I did not speak out because I was not a vaccine. Then they came for their apartments and jobs, and I did not speak out because I was not an apartment or a job. Finally, they came for their wedding formalwear. And no one spoke for me, a tuxedo, because no one was left to speak.

  • Hmmm. With the Democratic Party advised by such macroeconomic geniuses, I’m puzzled why the black community has suffered 15% unemployment in the five years since the Democrats were given the White House, a huge supermajority in the House and a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.

    I don’t know what planet you’re living on, but the democrats haven’t had a majority in the House for 2.5 years now and their “filibuster proof” majority in the Senate was only for a period of about six months until a special election took the 60th seat away from them.

  • Also, exporting jobs is rather different than immigrants coming here, or recognizing the ones that are already here. Let’s say you run a restaurant near a factory. If the jobs there are given to Pakistanis who move into town to take the jobs, you still have plenty of customers, though you may have to adapt your menu. If the jobs are given to Pakistanis in Pakistan, all your business from the factory workers is gone.

  • Don Williams

    Re Johnny at 14: “Seriously, Don, could you try to make points that actually follow each other? ”

    Actually, my points were clear but you deliberately avoided them in order to attack the false strawman you constructed.

    The Democrats has enormous power starting in January 2009 — so where did they show that they gave a hairy rodent’s posterior for America’s vast crowd of unemployed? We know what FDR did in the 1930s — so what did Obama and the Democratic Caucus do in 2009-2010?

    Why bring in 20 million more immigrants when unemployment in the black and Hispanic communities is so high? Don’t you care about your fellow Americans?

    The Richest 2 percent have increased their share of the national income from 8% in 1978 to almost 25% today — and Democrats were in power during much of that interval. Meanwhile the median wage is well below what it was 30 years ago.

    During the Bush Administration, I spent months of my own time –and money — working in 3 Democratic congressional campaigns, in Howard Dean’s 2004 Presidential campaign and in Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. And I am sick and tired of this bland, two-faced hypocrisy in the Democratic leadership. The people who fight this country’s wars — and who sweat to produce this country’s wealth — should not continue to be screwed by lying whores for the Rich.

  • @Don Williams: As other people have pointed out, this plan isn’t about bringing in more immigrants. It’s about recognizing ones already here. In fact, some of those unemployed Hispanics you are so worried about would become more employable, at least at living wages.

    Also, where’s your evidence that immigration increases unemployment? That only makes sense if you assume a finite amount of jobs, which makes more sense. More consumers means more jobs to do.

    And that’s ignoring the problem of why Americans deserve better than foreigners by dint of being born on the correct side of an imaginary line.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Re #15.

    Frack. Obviously wrong thread. Don’t know how that happened.

    Sorry everyone.

  • Don Williams

    Re Ace at 19:

    The cited CBO reports says the reform law will bring in 10 million more –not counting 8 million who are already here and who will have their status made legal. Plus it will increase the H1B visa limit to bring in 1 million more foreign engineers to displace American engineers in Silicon Valley.

    The unemployment rate for returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan was 15 % last year — and only reduced to 9 percent just before the election because a lot of vets were hired by the government to avoid embarrassment before the election.

    Not exactly the GI Bill, is it?

  • Remind me again who blocked the bill that would have created jobs for returning veterans?

  • dingojack

    So Don let’s see the ,unemployment trend in the US. Not exactly what you were saying, is it?


  • Johnny Vector

    Geez Don, did I say your points were unclear? No, I said they didn’t follow. And by way of response you give us a whole nother batch of things you dislike about Democrats. You worked on Democratic campaigns, therefore legalizing immigrants will destroy the country. The minimum wage has been stagnant for years, therefore immigration reform will, something. I don’t challenge the original assertions; I challenge the logical connections to immigration.

    You have one sentence there about immigration:

    Why bring in 20 million more immigrants when unemployment in the black and Hispanic communities is so high? Don’t you care about your fellow Americans?

    And so we see you are a racist. Yes, I care about my fellow Americans. Do you care only about people born here? What native tribe are you a full-blooded member of? And if you can’t answer that question because you aren’t, think do me a favor and fuck off.

  • Don Williams

    1) It is not racist to note that the world is organized into nation states and that our first duty is to our fellow countrymen — especially when they have risked their lives in combat to protect us. Although I suppose people who have never been within 500 miles of an active battlefield could overlook that.

    2) I mentioned the black and Hispanic communities because they vote in overwhelming numbers for Democratic politicans — so ignoring their misery , high unemployment and fall into long term poverty is even

    more of a betrayal. The Democratic leadership has openly acknowledged that it has written off white male Americans –including blue collar union workers.

    3) What I owe foreigners is peace and nonaggression. Live and let live. They solve their problems and we solve ours. It was not me who voted for an unnecessary war that killed 4500 Americans and 100,000 Iraqi civilians because major billionaire Democratic donor Haim Saban thought it would be good for Israel. I opposed that war.

    4) With 25 million Americans unemployed it is obvious that there are not enough jobs. It is also obvious that bringing in 20 million more people will drive wages down even further than they have already fallen.

    And chanting “macroeconomics” merely shows a snakehandling religious faith in people and policies who have already failed on a massive scale.

  • Don Williams

    As I note in a later thread, There has been a massive collapse in real median income in the past decade across the working age groups:

    2) Median Income (2011 dollars) Declines from (Peak Year) to 2011 by Age Bracket

    Source: Table H-10AR “Age of Head of Householder: All Races by Median and Mean Income”

    US Census Bureau ; at


    1) 15 to 24 years: (2000 to 2011) (36,370- 30,460)/ 36370 = 16.2% Decline

    2) 25 to 34 (2000 to 2011 ) (58007-50774)/ 58007 = 12.4% Decline

    3) 35 to 44 (2000) (70216- 61916)/ 70216 = 11.8% decline

    4) 45 to 54 ( 1999 to 2011) (76,806 – 63861)/76806 = 16.9% decline

    5) 55 to 64 ( 1999 to 2011) (60288 – 55937)/60288 = 7.2% decline (because they’ve already taken a massive

    wage cut due to age discrimination )

    6) 65 and over (1999 to 2011) (30772 – 33118) / 30772 = GAIN of 7.6% (probably because Social Security

    adjusted for inflation and their income is low anyway.)

    NOTE that this is a REVERSAL of the historical trend of rising –or at least stable — incomes in the previous decades

    See http://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/charts/census/median-household-income-age-brackets.html?household-income-by-age-bracket-median-real.gif

  • Don Williams

    But I suppose high population density is why people in India have always had such high levels of prosperity and high living standards.

    And there are 19 million people in Mexico City — so it must be a paradise. I don’t understand why any of its residents would want to come here.

    Maybe we could bring some American Indians in to explain the huge success of their open door immigration policy.

  • Johnny Vector

    Don Williams. Can’t tell if really doesn’t understand that workers are also consumers, or just trolling.