How Heritage Helped Convince Lawmakers to Forego Amnesty


In Heritage Impact

The New York Times credits The Heritage Foundation with giving conservative lawmakers the intellectual ammunition to block amnesty legislation:

Still, the conservative groups, sensing an opening, clearly provided the arguments that prevailed. Heritage Foundation figures like Robert Rector provided intellectual heft for Republicans looking for arguments to oppose their leaders. As House members gathered in Cambridge, Md., to hash over the issue, Heritage posted on its Foundry blog the argument that would ultimately win the day.

Derrick Morgan, the think tank’s vice president for domestic and economic policy, was succinct and directive: “During their retreat, Republicans in Congress are considering what they should do. Congress should not trust the president as a partner to push an unpopular amnesty.”

For good measure, Heritage posted a video featuring Mr. Morgan making that case — and opening with a call for action on immigration from Mr. Obama, a messenger most conservatives reflexively resist.

Do you think lawmakers should consider an immigration reform that includes amnesty?

We’re Losing the War on Poverty, Robert Rector Writes in the Wall Street Journal


In Heritage Impact

Robert Rector

Robert Rector

Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson announced an “unconditional war on poverty,” Heritage Foundation expert Robert Rector writes in the Wall Street Journal (subscription only).

Today, liberals argue that “income inequality” justifies further expansions of the welfare state. They claim that extended unemployment benefits are an unalloyed good that will relieve poverty. But history suggests otherwise.

Rector explains how the welfare system that arose after Johnson’s speech has been immensely destructive for the poor. And he recommends policy solutions that will help lift up them up: Continue Reading »

How to Reform Food Stamps and Other Welfare Programs


In Heritage Impact

David R. Frazier/Danita Delimont Photography/Newscom

Few policymakers and citizens are aware of the scope of our welfare state.

Each month, one out of every three Americans receives aid from a welfare program.

In 2012 alone, the federal government spent $916 billion on more than 80 welfare programs. Food stamps account for just 10 percent of this spending. The rest of the money — not including Social Security or Medicare — provides cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and low-income Americans.

Spending on these programs contributes to our nation’s growing debt while at the same time promoting dependency.

Reform of these programs is long overdue, Heritage Foundation welfare expert Robert Rector urges in National Review Online. But lawmakers should focus on the entire system, not just food stamps. “Food stamps are merely the tip of a much larger iceberg.”

Rector lays out a plan to reform the behemoth welfare system: Continue Reading »

Heritage’s Robert Rector Called the ‘Most Influential Outside Player on Immigration’

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In Heritage Impact

Robert Rector

Robert Rector

National Journal’s Tim Alberta profiles Heritage Foundation scholar Robert Rector, whose report on the cost of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants continues to shape the debate over immigration.

Rector, Alberta writes, is “the most influential outside player on immigration”:

[F]or conservatives such as Bachmann and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa–the leading immigration hawk in the House–Rector’s report was a revelation. They read it aloud on the House floor. They sent press releases summarizing its findings. They congratulated the coauthors on its success…

In the seven weeks since Rector released his Heritage study, he has spent hundreds of hours roaming the corridors of the Capitol. He has met with dozens of senators and scores of House members–the views of whom span the ideological divide–to discuss the findings of his report. He has tangled with lawmakers, schooled young staffers, and been skewered by opposing policy analysts.

And in the process, Rector has become the most influential outside player on what is perhaps the defining issue of the 113th Congress.

“He’s the guy,” said one lobbyist who has been involved with immigration negotiations and witnessed Rector’s impact. “He’s not afraid to push back on members, he’s not afraid to push back on staff, and he’s not afraid to tell people they’re wrong.”

Read Rector’s full report on

Video: Amnesty Is an Assault on the American Taxpayer

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In Heritage Impact

During a debate on immigration this week at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Heritage Foundation expert Robert Rector warned about the high cost of amnesty to American taxpayers.

In the video below, Rector questions the fairness of an approach like the Senate’s Gang of Eight amnesty bill.

Today the government spends close to $1 trillion each year aiding low-income individuals with nearly 80 different welfare programs, Rector pointed out. Providing amnesty to an estimated 11 million illegal immigration would cost taxpayers trillions more over their lifetimes.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) Supports Heritage’s Report on Amnesty’s Cost

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In Heritage Impact

In an op-ed published last week in the Daily Caller, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) endorsed The Heritage Foundation report on the true cost of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Six-point-three trillion dollars is a staggering number, but it was calculated using very reasonable assumptions. No one knows how many illegal immigrants are in this country, but the lowest estimate (barely above the number counted by the census) is 11.5 million — the number Rector used. In other words, $6.3 trillion is the floor, not the ceiling, for amnesty’s cost.

[Heritage expert Robert] Rector’s unassailable method is the only holistic approach available to policymakers, and it would be irresponsible to ignore it in favor of approaches that consider only a few variables.

King cited Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman: “You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state.”

Do you think American taxpayers can afford to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants?

Photo: Heritage’s Rector Educates Capitol Hill on the Cost of Amnesty


In Heritage Impact

Heritage Foundation expert Robert Rector, standing, takes questions at a meeting of Capitol Hill staff today.

Heritage Foundation expert Robert Rector, standing, takes questions on the cost of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants at a meeting Tuesday of Capitol Hill staff.

Jim DeMint and Robert Rector Explain Amnesty’s Cost in the Washington Post


In Heritage Impact

Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint and Heritage expert Robert Rector shed light on the real cost of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants in today’s Washington Post:

For centuries immigration has been vital to our nation’s health, and it will be essential to our future success. Yet immigrants should come to our nation lawfully and should not impose additional fiscal costs on our overburdened taxpayers. An efficient and merit-based system would help our economy and lessen the burden on taxpayers, strengthening our nation.

A properly structured lawful immigration system holds the potential to drive positive economic growth and job creation. But amnesty for those here unlawfully is not necessary to capture those benefits . . .

An exhaustive study by the Heritage Foundation has found that after amnesty, current unlawful immigrants would receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services and pay more than $3 trillion in taxes over their lifetimes. That leaves a net fiscal deficit (benefits minus taxes) of $6.3 trillion. That deficit would have to be financed by increasing the government debt or raising taxes on U.S. citizens.

Do you think our nation’s taxpayers can afford to cover the $6.3 trillion cost of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants?

Politico Calls Heritage a ‘Key Player’ in the Immigration Fight


In Heritage Impact

Politico says The Heritage Foundation is among the five players who could stop the push for amnesty for illegal immigrants:

This is the kind of policy fight for which Jim DeMint was hired.

The former South Carolina GOP senator and tea party hero took over last month as president of the 40-year-old conservative think tank, and got straight to work. He has blasted the Gang of Eight’s proposal as “amnesty,” criticized negotiators for drafting the bill in secret and is trying to highlight the bill’s potential costs if millions of undocumented immigrants are made eligible for federal benefits.

If DeMint and Heritage — with its policy analyses and feisty advocacy arm — can help keep the right unified on immigration, it could force Democrats and the White House to accept amendments they don’t like in order to get something through — or simply kill the bill.

Heritage has been here before. The group helped sink previous immigration efforts by focusing on costs. Senior research fellow Robert Rector released a study in 2007 saying that immigration legislation could cost taxpayers $2.6 trillion.

Monday, Heritage said immigration reform could cost $6.3 trillion on new spending on entitlements and social programs.

DeMint appeared on Fox News this morning to explain the costs of granting amnesty:

Do you think lawmakers will balk at the costs of this plan?

The Cost of Amnesty to the American Taxpayer: $6.3 Trillion


In Heritage Work

The Heritage Foundation released a pivotal report today  which calculates that granting amnesty to illegal immigrants will cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion.

Some highlights from the report:

  • If amnesty is enacted, the average adult unlawful immigrant would receive $592,000 more in government benefits over his lifetime than he would pay in taxes.
  • The lifetime fiscal deficit of amnesty — benefits minus taxes — would be $6.3 trillion, and that’s a conservative estimate.
  • When those granted amnesty retire and collect Social Security, they would draw $3.00 out of the pot for every $1.00 they paid in.
  • In 2010, the average unlawful immigrant household received around $24,721 in government benefits and services while paying some $10,334 in taxes. That means that each illegal immigrant household today costs taxpayers $14,387 per year. Amnesty would provide unlawful households with access to over 80 means-tested welfare programs, Obamacare, Social Security, and Medicare. The fiscal deficit for each household would soar.

In their 93-page report, Heritage welfare expert Robert Rector and domestic policy scholar Jason Richwine break down the cost of amnesty to the U.S. taxpayer. Even accounting for the phased approach to implementing government benefits that some amnesty advocates favor, the long-term cost is astronomical. Continue Reading »

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