Touting a new report by the Bipartisan Policy Center (aka, the unofficial mouthpiece for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), three former members of the George W. Bush administration, Michael Chertoff (former Secretary, Department of Homeland Security), Henry Cisneros (former Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development), and Condoleezza Rice (former Secretary of State) endorsed migration policies that would make Bernie Madoff blush.
Disregarding the economic and foreign policy disasters they left in their wake, which was probably made easy by their plush accommodations at the Four Seasons Silicon Valley where the event took place, the three panelists argued that current immigration levels were just not high enough and only blanket amnesty and open borders would allow America to retain its “demographic edge.”
The main contention of the BPC Immigration Task Force, or the “SWAT team” as Chertoff termed them, is that sufficient economic growth is not happening because there are too few workers in the United States to fill all of jobs vacated by aging Baby Boomers. Only if we import tens of millions of more immigrants can we ever hope to maintain a functioning economy and keep the Medicaid and Social Security programs solvent.
Of course, this is nonsense. There are already three workers for every available job, and for some occupations that ratio is much higher. And it is further nonsense to assert, as the BPC does, that an aging population is resulting in a decrease in the labor participation rate. The truth is that the labor participation for workers 65 years and over increased by 61 percent between 1992-2012 –some older workers choose to continue to work, some can’t afford to retire. By 2022, the labor rate for workers over 65 is predicted to increase another 24 percent. Meanwhile, the labor participation rate for all workers under 55 declined over that same time. The labor participation rate for teenagers is at an all-time low, and in December 2012 there were over 8 million 18-34 years olds not in the labor force, on top of 5.7 unemployed workers in that age range.
Another argument the BPC “all-stars” make is that immigration is vital to the future of Social Security and Medicaid. Using creative accounting, the BPC counts the money immigrants are paying in now, while ignoring the money they will take out later. Curiously, the BPC does not seem to understand that immigrants age at the same rate as the native-born and will put more of a stain on the these programs as they start to collect. And while high levels of immigration have reduced the average age in the United States, that change is negligible. Sooner or later the pyramid collapses, and sooner rather than later if Chertoff, Cisneros, and Rice get their way on immigration.
More immigration won’t put Americans back to work, or save Social Security and Medicaid, but it does, however, enrich the corporations that support the BPC. The collapse of the U.S. economy and fiscal insolvency apparently is a small price to pay in return. Bernie Madoff is a piker in comparison.