Thursday, February 15, 2024

Seven Trillion Dollars

To hear the MAGAtroids and the anti-immigration bigots, immigrants are a huge drain on our economy by taking jobs from real Americans and using all of our social services and sucking up our hard-earned tax dollars.

Guess what.

As the economy has improved and consumers have begun recognizing that improvement, Republicans have pivoted to attacking President Biden on a different policy weakness: immigration. After all, virtually everyone — Democrats included — seems to agree the issue is a serious problem.

But what if that premise is wrong? Voters and political strategists have treated our country’s ability to draw immigrants from around the world as a curse; it could be a blessing, if only we could get out of our own way.

Consider a few numbers: Last week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released updated 10-year economic and budget forecasts. The numbers look significantly better than they did a year earlier, and immigration is a key reason.

The CBO has now factored in a previously unexpected surge in immigration that began in 2022, which the agency assumes will persist for several years. These immigrants are more likely to work than their native-born counterparts, largely because immigrants skew younger. This infusion of working-age immigrants will more than offset the expected retirement of the aging, native-born population.

This will in turn lead to better economic growth. As CBO Director Phill Swagel wrote in a note accompanying the forecasts: As a result of these immigration-driven revisions to the size of the labor force, “we estimate that, from 2023 to 2034, GDP will be greater by about $7 trillion and revenues will be greater by about $1 trillion than they would have been otherwise.”

Emphasis added to point out that $7 trillion isn’t chicken feed. The technical term is that it is “a shitload.” But boogedy-boogedy racism trumps great economic predictions.