The voices of SOUND ECONOMICS and reason are making good use of the August congressional recess by pressing the case for comprehensive immigration reform. The legislation passed by the Senate in June would bolster Social Security, cut the federal deficit, expand the economy and provide employers the workforce they need while strengthening the border. This is why respected institutions from every corner are expressing their support and calling on House Republicans — including those from the Tampa Bay area — to act this fall.
In recent weeks, two leading groups representing seniors, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare and the AARP, teamed up to promote the financial benefits of the Senate bill. A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the Senate bill would cut nearly $1 trillion off the federal deficit by 2033. Over that same period, the expanded workforce created by the legislation would increase wages, productivity and capital spending, boosting the nation's economic output by 5 percent. An analysis by the chief actuary for Social Security estimates that by bringing illegal workers into the above-ground economy, the legislation would add $284 billion to the Social Security trust fund and extend its solvency another two years, to 2035.
This is real money. The sense of order and stability that would come from bringing 11 million illegal immigrants into the sunshine is why a range of organizations, from labor and business groups to churches and law enforcement, are spending the summer touting the Senate's comprehensive approach. The stakes for Florida's economy are enormous. The legislation, for example, promises to provide the state's agriculture industry the legal workers it needs while expanding the ranks of foreign high-tech workers. Next month, the country's Roman Catholic bishops will reach out through masses, diocesan radio and other programs to push for a comprehensive bill; the Diocese of St. Petersburg, which covers five bay area counties, including Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus, will take part.
Republican Reps. C.W. Bill Young of Indian Shores, Richard Nugent of Brooksville, Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor and Dennis Ross of Lakeland are not embracing the Senate bill or a viable alternative. But they are hearing from a broader range of voices across the nation, and they need to hear from their constituents. The Senate bill is imperfect, but it is a viable attempt at comprehensive reform that should be embraced by the House.