Thursday, September 23, 2010

Crist argues for legalization of immigrants as way to help Social Security

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has announced his Social Security plan: legalizing illegal immigrants as a way to get them to pay into the program:

``There are other ways we can help fund it, by creating a pathway to citizenship. Secure the border, make sure we have a pathway that is earned -- no amnesty -- and if we have those 11 to 14 million people productively participating in the American economy and paying the payroll taxes that would be attended to it, that would help Social Security.''

As I've pointed out elsewhere, of course, most of those 11 to 14 million people are already paying into Social Security, as they use false Social Security numbers to get jobs. But since they're illegal, they can't collect benefits. That's good for Social Security, adding around $12 billion in revenues each year.

But if those folks become legal, they can collect benefits on those contributions – including, I believe, contributions made before they were legalized – which would worsen Social Security's finances.

The differences aren't huge – five or six years on the trust fund, for what that's worth – but you'd at least like your plan to fix Social Security to push things in the right directin rather than the wrong one.

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