Clinton Cites Immigration Reform as Crucial to Solving Long-Term Deficit
Speaking this morning at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s fiscal summit, former President Bill Clinton forcefully argued that immigration reform is crucial to solving the country’s long-term deficit problem. Clinton, who said he had recently visited Arizona — whose governor last week signed a highly controversial and highly stringent immigration bill that, for instance, requires police officers to ask people they suspect of being in the country illegally about their citizenship status — said the belief “might not be popular.”
But, he said, “If we have any advantage over China, if we have any advantage over India, it’s that we’ve got somebody from everywhere here, and they do well.” Saying that the country “still works for immigrants,” he went on to explain:
The real reason there’s anti-immigration sentiment is that it’s white, male factory workers without a college degree that got killed in the last decade…. The burdens of the last decade’s economic downturn were on white male high school graduates, or non-high school graduates, or [people with] a couple years of college, who shivered in this economy. Their taxes would be lower if we got more taxpayers…. The pressures on social security and the changes we have to make will be less draconian if there’s more people in the system. I don’t think there’s any alternative but for us to increase immigration. We can start [to increase immigration] at the areas at the top and the bottom [of the earnings spectrum] that will not displace people who are the most insecure [jobs-wise]. I don’t see any way out of [the fiscal crisis] unless that’s part of the strategy.
Last week, the Obama administration started reaching out to Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), presumably in an effort to woo him as a swing vote for immigration reform. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the White House hope to move on immigration reform sometime this year.