As far as amnesty, that’s where [Charlie Crist] and I disagree. He would have voted for the McCain plan. I think that plan is wrong…if you grant amnesty…you will destroy any chance we will ever have of having a legal immigration system that works here in America. [Marco Rubio, Fox News Sunday debate with Charlie Crist, March 28, 2010]
It’s this sort of straight talk that endeared Rubio to the conservative base in 2010. Rubio presciently noted that when you consistently grant amnesty and telegraph the message that you will never enforce the law, we will continue to repeat the cycle of illegal migration and amnesty. At the 1:30 mark in this interview, Rubio offers one of the best lines of attack against amnesty I've heard. His views were simply diametrically opposed to what he is espousing now.
The irony is that the McCain amnesty bill wasn’t nearly as offensive as the current iteration Rubio is supporting. The past bill contained a cap on the age for Dream Act recipients and required education attainment. This bill doesn’t. Moreover, this bill invites in thousands of illegals who were already deported, many of them for criminal activities.
Consequently, the cost of this bill – both for amnestied illegals and low-skilled guest workers, along with their children – will likely be more expensive than the 2007 bill. Yet Rubio’s office is coordinating a pre-emptive attack on the coming cost study from Heritage, demanding that they score the “benefits” of bringing in so many new workers. Amazingly, it was actually Charlie Crist who advanced a similar argument in defense of McCain-Kennedy. During a debate with Rubio, Crist said that by offering amnesty to 12 million illegals ,we would help solve the Social Security deficit because more people would be paying into the system.
Rubio laughed him off the stage: "There isn't a single serious public policy observer in the country that thinks that's a serious solution." Then, Rubio sent out a press release, which was posted on his website at the time, lambasting the idea that low-wage earners could possible solve Social Security. In doing so, he cited….Robert Rector’s cost study – the very study he now maligns:
DEBATE FACT #5: Crist’s Amnesty For Social Security Plan Would Bankrupt The System Faster
What Crist Said…
That he would protect Social Security but his plan would actually make it go bankrupt faster.
The Facts About The Crist Record…
Charlie Crist Has Proposed Granting Amnesty For Illegal Immigrants To Save Social Security:
· In 2007, The CBO Predicted That Amnesty For Illegal Immigrants Would Increase Social Security Spending $350 Million Over Ten Years And Add 11,500 Disabled And Retired Workers To The Rolls Ten Years Out. “CBO estimates that the Z-A visa program would boost outlays for Social Security benefits by $350 million over the 2008-2017 period and add 11,500 disabled and retired workers to the rolls in 2017.” (Congressional Budget Office, “Senate Amendment 1150 To S. 1348, The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act Of 2007,” 6/4/07)
· Amnesty Would Also Increase Medicare Spending $290 Million Over The Same Period According To The CBO. “Medicare would spend an extra $290 million over the 2008-2017 period and enroll an added 7,000 people in 2017.” (Congressional Budget Office, “Senate Amendment 1150 To S. 1348, The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act Of 2007,” 6/4/07)
· PolitiFact: Crist Plan Would Actually Add Costs To The Social Security System. “In fact it turns out Social Security already is receiving a huge benefit from illegal workers who are paying into the system but as of now are unable to receive any of the benefits. Back in 2005, the New York Times reported that illegal workers essentially are contributing a $6 billion to $7 billion annual subsidy. More recent estimates suggest illegal workers are now paying $9 billion to $12 billion a year into Social Security, with no legal way to get that money back in retirement benefits. … Crist’s plan would potentially tap the other third of illegal workers not paying payroll taxes, but also would allow all workers access to Social Security benefits when they reach retirement age. Added benefits, yes. But added costs, too.” (Aaron Sharockman, “Charlie Crist Says Social Security Plan Embraced By Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich,” St. Petersburg Times’ “PolitiFact,” 10/18/10)
· National Review: Amnesty “Would Also Make All Of These Individuals Eligible For The Program Upon Retirement – Essentially Turning Today’s One-Way Cash Flow Into A Two-Way Street.” “Here’s the fallacy of Crist’s thinking, by the numbers: About 50 percent of illegal immigrants already pay Social Security taxes, because their wages are ‘on the books.’ The Social Security Administration estimates that illegals pay as much as $7 billion into the program on a yearly basis. Since they’re not eligible for the benefits, this is an inflow of money without any future corresponding outflow. If Social Security’s numbers are the only consideration, keeping illegal immigrants illegal has its advantages. Amnesty would bring the other half of current illegals into the fold of payroll taxes, and increase Social Security receipts in the short term. But it would also make all of these individuals eligible for the program upon retirement — essentially turning today’s one-way cash flow into a two-way street. ‘It is true that they will pay small amounts into the Social Security and Medicare systems for, say, the next two or three decades, but once they retire, they will draw down $2.7 trillion in benefits from Social Security and Medicare alone,’ Rector said. Rector calculated the figure during the 2007 consideration of amnesty, based on an estimate of 10 million adult illegal immigrants.” (Kyle O. Peterson, “Charlie Crist Says Amnesty Will Help Social Security. Really. Governor?” National Review, 9/27/10) [emphasis added]
· Crist’s Amnesty Plan “Will Put More Pressure On The System.” “When Crist has been pressed for his ideas of dealing with Social Security’s long-term problems, the governor suggested that finding a way for some of the country’s 14 million illegal immigrants to become citizens may create more workers who would provide additional payroll taxes to support Social Security. Critics have attacked his proposal by pointing out many illegal immigrants already work and pay payroll taxes but do not receive Social Security benefits. They said if those workers become legal, they will put more pressure on the system and also qualify for other federal aid, such as Medicare.” (Lloyd Dunkelberger, “Senate Candidates Talk About Changing Social Security,” Lakeland Ledger, 10/3/10)
Look, there’s nothing new about politicians “evolving” shortly after being elected to Congress, but how could someone evolve so profoundly in such short order? Rubio rightly recognized the absurdity of suggesting that millions of low-skilled amnestied illegals can affect a net-positive change on taxes and entitlements. While they might pay in a small amount of payroll taxes, they get back more from the progressive benefit formula of Social Security, as well as from the refundable tax credits and transfer programs they might secure on behalf of themselves, or at the very least, on behalf of their American-born children.
Charlie Crist was wrong in 2007 on McCain-Kennedy. Robert Rector was right. McCain-Kennedy on steroids will not change that equation.
Cross-posted from The Madison Project