Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Charlie Crist: No False Solution Left Unproposed

I've criticized Florida Governor and now-Independent U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Crist for claiming that Social Security can be fixed not with tough choices like tax increases or benefit cuts but—wait for it!—by cutting "waste and fraud." The problem is that Social Security doesn't have a ton of either, and certainly not $15 trillion worth of it.

But now the governor has a new solution: legalization of illegal immigrants. USA Today reports that

Newly independent Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running for Senate this year, has an idea to address two of the nation's most pressing political issues: Give illegal immigrants a chance to become citizens so they can pay into Social Security. "It's certainly worth a very good debate and research," Crist told the Associated Press. "If there are people here that aren't paying into the system, which everyone agrees there are, that's in essence a form of fraud on the system."

Yet, as I've earlier pointed out, most illegal immigrants do pay into Social Security—they use a false Social Security number to get a job and Social Security payroll taxes are deducted from their paychecks. Recent estimates show about $9 billion annually flowing into Social Security from taxes by illegal workers.

The thing illegals don't do is collect benefits; that tends to get you deported. So the situation is exactly the opposite of what Crist supposes: illegal immigrants aren't costing Social Security anything; in fact, they're subsidizing the program. And so-called "amnesty" for illegal's won't help Social Security's finances, it will increase the program's payout.

I suppose that once all other options are exhausted, Crist will start thinking about real solutions to Social Security's problems. But Crist has shown himself to be a creative man, so I'm not sure he's run out of non-solutions just yet.

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