A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Tag: heritage foundation

Is Our Conservative Think Tanks Learning, Massive Racism Edition

by evanmcmurry

So the coauthor of that Heritage Foundation study claiming that immigration reform will cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion—a number that’s about $7.8 trillion too high, according to conservative estimates—turns out to be a giant racist. Whodathunk?

Here’s his thinking, via Jennifer Rubin*:

The average IQ of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white native population, and the difference is likely to persist over several generations. The consequences are a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low-IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust, and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market.

This isn’t irrelevant. The Heritage study gets its massively inflated figure in part by assuming immigrants will be on the welfare rolls their entire lives. Assuming they’re genetically inferior is a necessary precondition for that assumption.

You’ll recall in Heritage President Jim DeMint’s USA Today op-ed lambasting former BFF Marco Rubio over immigration that DeMint relied on a 2007 Heritage study by Robert Rector claiming reform will cost around $2.5 trillion, but promised breathlessly that new numbers were on their way. In other words, DeMint could tell his current figure wasn’t doing the trick, and he was casting about for someone who would give immigration a bigger price tag. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess, though Heritage is now in full retreat mode.

* This blog gives Jennifer Rubin a lot of shit, but she’s been ruthless with the Heritage Foundation over this. Good on her.

Is Our Conservative Think Tanks Learning?

by evanmcmurry

Jim DeMint becomes president of the Heritage Foundation and suddenly the pillars are made of plaster:

In what was almost certainly an unprecedented press call, top fiscal conservatives from Americans for Tax Reform, the Cato Institute, the Kemp Foundation and the American Action Network took what had once been the premier conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, to the woodshed for its immigration report that sees trillions in cost and no benefits from immigration reform.

With a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone, Josh Culling of ATR said that while Heritage was a “treasured ally,” its work was a rehash of a flawed 2007 study that ignored all the benefits of immigration reform. Cato’s Alex Nowrasteh was even more outspoken saying “how disappointed” he was that Heritage abandoned conservative dynamic scoring (i.e. the impact a piece of legislation’s impact on the economy). He accused Heritage of not following years of their own work, which has striven to look at the impact on behavior of changes resulting from reforming the tax code and other innovations. “They ignored GDP, they ignored productivity,” he said in reeling off the list of items in the Gang of 8 legislation left out of Heritage. Cato’s study, which did use dynamic scoring, found that immigration reform would add $1.5 trillion in growth over ten years while forcing out 11 million immigrants (the Heritage solution) would lower GDP by $2.6 trillion over ten years.

The prize for candor, though, went to American Action Forum’s Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who stated flatly, “It really misleads.” Without dynamic scoring, H1-B visas, a guest worker program, and the other economic pluses from immigration reform and with a load of ludicrous assumptions (e.g. everyone would qualify for government benefits and take them) Heritage, he said, “gets a really big number.” He continued in describing the Heritage view of immigrants, “There is no American dream. They start in poverty. They end in poverty. Their kids are in poverty.”

But when the battle over immigration begins, this study will still be cited in anti-reform ads in swing states, scaring voters into thinking letting people earn money and pay taxes will somehow be bad for the economy, or that turning immigrants into employees will increase drag on the social safety net. DeMint is essentially doing to conservative thought what he once did to Republicans’ ability to pass policy in the Senate: making it into hard-right gristle.