AARP, Social Security and Immigration

Published on September 20th, 2013

By Ric Oberlink
September 20, 2013

The AARP magazine recently ran op-eds from Senators Schumer and McCain in favor of the Senate immigration bill, offering its readers the complete gamut of opinion from A to B. AARP members, presumably old enough to think for themselves and make up their own minds, deserve better.

The AARP, no longer named the American Association of Retired Persons, is open to anyone over 50. That means that millions of its members are working and subject to the same job competition and downward pressure on wages that other American workers will face from the importation of millions of foreign workers.          

While much of the debate about S 744 has been about its award of amnesty to the 11-12 million who are in this country illegally—feel free to call it “earned legalization” if that makes you feel better—the provisions to greatly increase immigration and import additional millions of workers have received scant attention. Along with automatic citizenship for migrants here illegally, the Senate bill would issue 22 million new green cards to foreign workers just in the first ten years after its enactment. Each ensuing decade would bring additional millions of foreign workers to this country.

Schumer wrote that we need this legislation because it will “ensure full Social Security solvency for two additional years (through 2035).” That’s all we get for importing tens of millions workers per decade—an additional two years of solvency? Then what? Apparently, we would just need to import more tens of millions of workers to obtain another two years of solvency. Of course, those workers will eventually become eligible for Social Security benefits so we will need the immigration of more workers to pay into Social Security. It is the very definition of a Ponzi scheme.

In fact, fixing the Social Security system is not rocket economics. It is a simple equation consisting of benefit levels, retirement age, and wages subject to withholding. There are an unlimited number of ways to tinker with this formula and maintain the system’s solvency. Whether Congress has the guts or wisdom to do so is a different matter.

As just one example of the technical nature of available fixes, many economists advocate adopting the chained CPI (Consumer Price Index) for Social Security instead of the current inflation index.  McCain writes that Social Security needs the massive immigration increases of the Senate bill in order to “reduce its unfunded liabilities by nearly $500 billion through 2087.” By contrast, the change in the inflation index would reduce Social Security liabilities by $130 billion in the first decade alone, with much larger decreases in each ensuing decade.

In Britain and Australia, both sides of the political spectrum have embraced the notion of reducing immigration. Their leaders realize that in this technological era, mass immigration no longer makes sense. In an age when jobs are limited, prosperity does not result from massive influxes of foreign workers.

Unfortunately, few American leaders have yet to recognize the obvious. In the same way that union leaders have decided that it is in the interest of the unions to support immigration increases, even if it is bad for the American workers they claim to represent, the AARP leadership has taken a myopic view, cozying up to business interests and politicians. That may be good for the AARP, but is harmful to its members.


Ric Oberlink, J.D., is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization and can be reached at [email protected]

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