By Alex Gonzalez
“Some reasonable term ought to be allowed to enable aliens to get rid of foreign and acquire American attachments; to learn the principles and imbibe the spirit of our government; and to admit of a probability at least, of their feeling a real interest in our affairs.” –Alexander Hamilton.
In a new Op-Ed by Dowell Myers, a professor of Public Policy at the University of Southern California, and the author of “Immigrants and Boomers”, Myers underlines the reality that Boomers and immigrants need each other, and America will need more foreign workers to help pay for entitlements. With 58% of Latinos very unhappy with President Obama, it would behoove the Republican Party to come up with reasonable solution to revamp our broken immigration system by connecting an immigration reform with our need to finance entitlements.
Illegal immigration is shrinking to a trickle, if that, and will likely never return to the peak levels of 2000. Just as important, immigrants who arrived in the 1990s and settled here are assimilating in remarkable and unexpected ways.
According to Mr. Myers, Mexico’s birthrate is plunging. In 1970 a Mexican woman, on average, gave birth to 6.8 babies, and when they entered their 20s, millions journeyed north for work. With Mexico becoming a middle-income nation, and shrinking birthrates in Mexico to 2.1, Mexico will only be able to replenish their own population, and thus, no longer be able to supply low-skilled workers to the U.S. Further, the aging population of retiring Boomers estimated at 4 million each year exacerbates the Social Security Trust Fund since it will no longer be able to keep solvent, since the pool of beneficiaries is increasing while the pool of workers paying into the system is shrinking.
Currently, the ratio of beneficiaries to workers is 3 to 1: it takes 3 workers to pay benefits for 1 Social Security beneficiary. But by 2020, the ratio will be only 2 to 1. Hence, there will be a need to import more workers from other country beside Mexico, in order to provide service for boomers. And, with Mexico not able to supply the low-skilled workers, the U.S. will need to bring workers from Central America and Africa.
“Indeed, with millions of people retiring every week, America’s immigrants and their children are crucial to future economic growth: economists forecast labor-force growth to drop below 1 percent later this decade because of retiring baby boomers”
Moreover, a large bloc of retiring boomers will consume up 80% of the federal budget or 42% of our GDP by 2050, unless we fix entitlements. According to CATO, entitlements are “A Looming Fiscal Train Wreck” but Republicans can fix this mess by making the argument that we don’t need to increase taxes since the problem is more related to spending: “to focus solely on debt is to treat a symptom rather than the underlying disease. We face a debt crisis not because taxes are too low but because government is too big. If there is no change to current policies, by 2050 federal government spending will exceed 42 percent of GDP”. Currently, 50% of federal budget is allocated to entitlements with an exponential increase of 18% each year. So the need for an immigration reform is becoming more urgent year by year to help the Treasury finance entitlements.
“How do we change course and begin treating immigrants as a vast, untapped human resource? The answer goes to the heart of shifting from an immigration policy to an immigrant policy…Who will be selling these homes to these immigrants? The 78 million native-born baby boomers looking to downsize as their children grow up and leave home. “
With Obama unable to force democrats in Congress to push for an immigration reform, Republicans in Congress could benefit from proposing a viable solution that will create more revenue to pay for entitlements. It will also give Republicans the opportunity to make the argument that the U.S. labor pool needs an urgent immigration reform to make immigrants part of the agreement in order to find way to pay for entitlements. Such reform will be based on the demands of a national labor pool with the goal of financing entitlements for the 8o million Boomers that will hit retirement in the next 20 years.
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