On yesterday’s Your World, Jim DeMint of the Heritage Foundation got a friendly platform to defend promote a much-criticized report from his think tank, The Heritage Foundation, saying immigration reform could cost $6.3 trillion. As Media Matters noted, even conservatives have called it a “fatally flawed” study. But host Neil Cavuto made no independent verification of the report. Nor did he investigate any of its claims beyond a “he said/she said” kind of approach.
Cavuto asked whether the $6.3 trillion cost includes “whatever tax revenue you get from illegals once they make their way to becoming legal?”
DeMint answered, “Yes it does. The difference between what they take out of the system and what they put into it is $6.3 trillion. …They actually take more out of the system once they become legal and over a 50-year period, Neil, this is something they’re not talking about. They’re trying to talk about a 10-year window, but the average unlawful immigrant is 34 years old. The actuaries say they’ll live until 84.”
In other words, as Think Progress put it, the Heritage study ignores immigrants’ gains in wages and education after legalization, preferring to categorize all immigrants as “takers” who will be permanently dependent on the government.
But Cavuto couched those concerns in technical, obtuse language: “Many of the critics of this study …said ‘Well, Republicans have forgotten dynamic accounting something that they wanted when it came to calculating the benefits of tax cuts and the like, but they’re not when it comes to whatever illegals who eventually find a pathway to citizenship bring to the economy in terms of the taxes they pay, what they contribute to the economy.' What do you say to that?”
DeMint said, “The unlawful immigrants contribute no more than 2% to our economy, our GDP, and most of that accrues to them. …There is no way under any kind of dynamic or other analysis that this would be beneficiary to the American people. …What we need to do is put aside this whole idea of amnesty and fix our system one piece at a time. …It’s going to be another Obamacare that they said wouldn’t cost anything, now we know it’s going to cost trillions, and it’s going to be a train wreck.”
But, as Think Progress also noted, this directly contradicts what Heritage said in 2006. “Heritage then wrote, ‘the argument that immigrants harm the American economy should be dismissed out of hand.’"
Cavuto didn’t bring up the 2006 study. Instead, he opened the door for DeMint to defend his stance as pro-Latino asked about the politics of Republicans alienating Latino voters and whether the criticism is fair.
DeMint grabbed the life preserver. “Those of us here at Heritage, we are advocating for the immigrants who have come here lawfully, because they’re going to pay a steep price for this amnesty. …Our immigration system should be for those who are here legally and for American citizens.”
But as Media Matters reports, even conservatives like Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Jeff Flake, and Rep. Paul Ryan are ripping the findings and methodology of the report. When that happens, you know your report is in trouble.
Except on Fox News.