CBO Cost Estimates on Senate Immigration Bill Celebrated, Challenged

By:  Bob Adelmann
CBO Cost Estimates on Senate Immigration Bill Celebrated, Challenged

To say that the Congressional Budget Office's estimate of the costs of S. 744, the immigration bill being contested in the Senate, is misleading is far too mild. It is deceptive and serves partisan political interests rather than the truth.

When the Congressional Budget Office’s cost estimate of S. 744 — the Gang of Eight's controversial immigration bill — was published on Tuesday, there was celebrating on both sides of the issue. Said Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of that gang and the original sponsor of the bill:

Simply put, this report is a huge momentum boost for immigration reform. It debunks the idea that immigration reform is anything other than a boon to our economy and robs the bill’s opponents of one of their last remaining arguments [against it].

Another gang member, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was equally ebullient about the CBO’s estimate:

The CBO has further confirmed what most conservative economists have found: reforming our immigration system is a net benefit for our economy, American workers and taxpayers. There remain some key areas that need to be tightened up to prevent those who have violated our immigration laws from accessing federal benefit programs. But overall, the CBO report offers encouraging evidence that the status quo is unacceptable and we can end it without burdening our already burdened taxpayers and, in fact, reduce the deficit over the next 20 years.

On the other side was Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, who saw serious shortcomings in the CBO’s analysis, calling it “manipulative” and “misleading”:

The bill’s drafters relied on the same scoring gimmicks used by the Obamacare drafters to conceal its true cost from taxpayers and to manipulate the CBO score. There is a reason why eligibility for the most expensive federal benefits was largely delayed outside the 10-year scoring window: to mislead the public.

As Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, I asked CBO to provide a long-term estimate. Sadly, CBO did not provide the long-term estimate as requested. As a result, the score effectively conceals some of the biggest long-term costs to taxpayers contained in this legislation, including providing illegal immigrants with Medicaid, food stamps, and cash welfare.

S. 744 deals with two major issues: what to do with the estimated 11 million illegal aliens (“undocumented immigrants” in the PC language of today) already living and working in the United States, and how to secure the porous borders in the future that have allowed those 11 million to come in illegally.

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