The Dismal (and Dim) Science of Douglas Holtz-Eakin and the Bipartisan Policy Center
The Bi-Partisan Policy Center (BPC), which functions as the D.C. mouthpiece of multinational corporations, released a report on the “benefits” of comprehensive immigration reform at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event. Does anyone doubt what the BPC’s “findings” were? After failing to receive any substantial coverage of its report, the better question is, “Does anyone care?”The reverberations in the ever-shrinking echo chamber may be deafening to those who are calling for blanket amnesty and massive increases in legal immigrants and guest workers, but it is not enough to drown out the clear majority of American voters who oppose the Senate bill. The Chamber and its allies can spend millions to promote a faux grassroots effort to pressure House Republicans to go to conference with the Senate, and they may get a sympathetic write up in Politico, but they can’t change the current dynamic on the Hill. No doubt the U.S. Chamber can peddle a great deal of influence with politicians, but few members of either party are anxious to make “comprehensive immigration reform” the centerpiece of their reelection campaigns.One of the unintended consequences of the Chamber’s publicized lobbying blitz is that it brings to light the utter inanity of their arguments, and no one illustrates this better than Douglas Holtz-Eakin. Holtz-Eakin, who came out of the hotbed of intellectualism that was the George W. Bush administration, was on the BPC panel and made several nonsensical statements, beginning with the claim that labor unions oppose comprehensive immigration reform. Even someone who has been semi-comatose over the last decade would know this isn’t even remotely close to the truth.Holtz-Eakin also claimed that what the BPC was presenting was “science” that had to be accepted as the gospel truth because it was “scientific.” Any claims that mass immigration is not the panacea that cures all economic ills are, according to Hotlz-Eakin, xenophobic. Holtz-Eakin may be forgiven for failing to note that “dismal” generally precedes “science” when referring to the study of economics, but it is pure ignorance compounded by sheer arrogance to suggest that anyone who opposes using mass immigration to reinflate the housing bubble (something favored by the BPC) is a xenophobe. No one takes this sort of thing seriously, which is why no one outside their ever-shrinking echo chamber takes the arguments of the BPC seriously, either.There is nothing remotely scientific about the claims Holtz-Eakin, and the organizations he shills for, are making. Their entire argument hinges on the mistaken belief that making the U.S. economy bigger by adding tens of millions of more people through immigration invariably leads to greater overall prosperity, which is in direct contradiction to what the economic data of the last forty years indicate. The BPC gets around this problem by constructing a macroeconomic model that conveniently produces their desired conclusions. Science is not about inventing improbable arguments to fit implausible preconceptions, and economists can never say that a prediction of what will happen twenty years in the future is an incontestable fact – at least a competent and/or honest economist would never make that claim.The test of any economic projection is whether it is likely given past, present, and the most probable future conditions. The BPC report falls far short on all three fronts. But the Holtz-Eakins of the world have an escape hatch. If increased immigration leads to higher unemployment and decreased per capita income down the road, the excuse will be that we just need more immigration.
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