Immigration Reform and Social Security

by Reihan Salam

While the CBO analysis of the Senate immigration bill received a great deal of attention, the Social Security Administration analysis has not. Fortunately, Yuval Levin and Andrew Biggs are on the case. The CBO projected that the Senate immigration bill would reduce the deficit over the next two decades, due almost entirely to increased Social Security revenues, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. One obvious problem with this approach is that it counts years during whch immigrants are of working-age, yet it doesn’t factor in the fact that they will at some point collect Social Security benefits. Another problem, which Andrew carefully addresses, is that the SSA appears to be making unrealistic assumptions about the immigrant population, e.g., legal immigrants have low average earnings and they tend to live longer than natives, yet the SSA doesn’t seem to take either fact into account. I hope Andrew’s analysis draws attention on the Hill as House members debate immigration reform.