The Heritage Foundation issued a report on Monday that charged that if immigration reform is passed, the nation's taxpayers would foot the bill for $6.3 trillion to take care of legalized immigrants who would draw on government programs from public education, to Medicare, Medicaid etc.. Immediately, other conservatives contested the report's findings. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) tweeted, "Here we go again. New Heritage study claims huge cost for Immigration Reform. Ignores economic benefits. No dynamic scoring." Haley Barbour tweeted, "It's a political document. It's not serious analysis." As Michael Clemens noted, "When the American Action Forum, Americans for Tax Reform, the Cato Institute, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) are roundly trashing [co-author Robert] Rector’s methods, the problem is not Rector’s politics; it’s his methods."
Yes, others have already poked holes in the report's methodology, but what struck me and others was the framing of the objection. No doubt the goal of the report is to derail immigration reform, but the strategy is tired and old. It's more of the GOP politics of dispossession and resentment, the language of "the makers" versus "the takers" where "real Americans" build government programs and pay taxes and undeserving illegals (not undocumented) take advantage of the system. This is a time honored political strategy of us versus them, but with Romney's stinging defeat being attributed to his impolitic "47%" comment, why the Heritage Foundation thinks it will work this time is beyond me. Of course the Heritage Foundation is not running political candidates for election nor is it a political party, so they need not worry about how their strategy comes across to those they are not trying to raise money from. (h/t Allen McDuffee) But the GOP should care.