Ezra Klein has a post where he calls the balanced budged constitutional amendment Republicans are pushing and calls it both terrible policy and dangerous. I haven’t read the actual amendment or taken a close look at it, but based on Ezra’s description I’m tempted to agree with him. But that’s not why I’m writing. I’m writing because I want to disagree with this statement of his:
But the problem isn’t simply that the proposed amendment is extreme. It’s also unworkable. The baby boomers are retiring and health costs are rising. Unless you have a way to stop one or the other from happening — and no one does — spending as a percentage of GDP is going to have to rise.
While economists may disagree about the fiscal impacts of past immigration, there is a general agreement that higher skilled immigrants have a positive impact on government budgets. Part of our long-term budget problem is demographic, so, as Rick Santorum so usefully implied, we should be letting in more immigrants who are on average younger in order to counteract our country’s aging (that was Santorum’s intended point, right?). Also, more immigrants also allow us to spread the fixed defense costs over a more people, and lower defense spending as a percent of GDP. Illegal immigrants are even better from a budgetary standpoint, since they frequently contribute to social security but don’t take out of it, and have thus put around $120 to $240 billion into the system. So what we really need is a massive influx of highly skilled illegal immigrants.