White House Business Council Conference Call: Pushing CIR in August12 Aug 2013
Shortly before Congress high-tailed it out of Washington for the August recess, two of the Obama administration’s point people on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) held a nationwide teleconference with business leaders to discuss the economic benefits of CIR. Murthy Law Firm founder and president, Sheela Murthy, was among the participants, and said she found it helpful to see how the Administration is showcasing their work in this field.
The Administration’s message was this: now that your Congressional representatives will be home in their districts, it’s a perfect time to let them know what CIR would mean to your business. That lesson was driven home by Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council, and Small Business Administrator Karen Mills, who pointed to a recent White House report entitled “The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System.” [See The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System, by Cecilia Muñoz, Gene Sperling, et al., White House Blog, 10.Jul.2013. Or read the full report.]
Using several key findings from the report, Ms. Muñoz showed how the Senate CIR bill would strengthen the overall economy and grow U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).
- The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the nonpartisan number crunchers charged with furnishing unbiased budget figures to Congress, estimates that enacting CIR would increase real GDP by 3.3 percent in 2023 and 5.4 percent in 2033 – that is, by about $700 billion in 2023 and $1.4 trillion in 2033, in 2013 dollars.
- The CBO estimates that the Senate CIR bill would increase the labor force by 3.5 percent in 2023 and 5 percent in 2033, boosting capital investment and productivity and leading to higher overall wages.
- According to CBO projections, the Senate bill would reduce the federal budget deficit by nearly $850 billion over the next 20 years, and reduce the federal debt as a share of the economy by three percentage points in 2023.
- The Social Security Administration’s independent actuary estimates that enacting the Senate CIR bill would add nearly $300 billion to the Social Security Trust Fund over the next ten years, which would keep the system solvent for two additional years.
Muñoz stressed the importance of making this case to individual members of Congress, so they can see the benefits of CIR on a person-by-person, business-by-business basis. SBA Administrator Mills echoed her remarks, noting that we are closer than we ever have been to enacting meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform, but still have a long way to go before it’s accomplished. Mills said that Chambers of Commerce and small business owners across the country are supporting the Senate approach to CIR because, by lifting GDP and productivity, it will put more money in the hands of consumers – money they will spend at businesses large and small.
Mills was quick to point out that CIR would not just create short-term economic growth by stimulating consumer demand; it would strengthen the very foundations of our economy through immigrant entrepreneurship. The numbers speak volumes. Mills noted that immigrants are three times more likely to start businesses than their native-born American counterparts. Moreover, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy, in 2011, immigrants started 28 percent of all new U.S. businesses, even though they accounted for only 13 percent of the U.S. population. This, said Mills, is the American Dream, and the entrepreneurial spirit is the “secret sauce” that has made our economy so successful – this, along with the spirit of innovation that so many immigrants have brought to our shores, inventing new technologies and creating entirely new industries in the process.
Far from being a fiscal burden on state and local governments, Mills maintained, immigration reform will lead to business growth, and increase state and local tax revenue on a massive scale.
In closing, Mills and Muñoz urged the business community to tell their members of Congress in no uncertain terms: pass CIR! Perhaps autumn will reveal if the message comes through, following the August Congressional recess.
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