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Bigger isn’t always better

author Published by Jeremy Beck

Immigration expansionists often say that struggling American towns and cities would benefit from increased immigration that would “grow the economy.” But adding people only guarantees that an economy will be bigger, not necessarily better.

In Columbus, Ohio, for instance, tax revenues are not keeping up with population growth:

“More people are calling Columbus home every year, but the biggest source of funding for filling potholes, clearing snow and providing other city services isn’t keeping up.

“For the first time since the city increased the income tax to 2.5 percent in 2009, per-capita income-tax collections slipped last year, and the city is preparing for the possibility that tax revenue won’t grow again in 2019, according to data from Auditor Megan Kilgore.

“That means that every dollar the city collects is spread a little thinner across the services it provides.”

According to an editorial in The Columbus Dispatch, 71 percent of new Columbus households between 2000-2016 earned $25,000 or less. The tax base is growing but so are the demands on the system.

“he city’s income tax growth is already falling behind,” the editorial reports, “and may require changes in how the city pays for essential services such as police and fire protection and maintenance of infrastructure.”

Meanwhile in in Massachusetts:

“Limited housing stock coupled with economic growth and a growing population are driving up home prices in the Bay State, which in turn increase property tax bills. The growing costs are especially challenging to moderate- and low-income seniors who own homes and live on fixed incomes.”

The one certain outcome of continuing immigration at over one million per year is tens of millions more people needing homes, schools and roads in the coming decades. Adding a million permanent residents per year infuses the economy with new consumers and taxpayers, but there are costs as well.

David Frum covers this and more in his wide-ranging argument for immigration reduction in The Atlantic this week:

If a goal of immigration policy is to strengthen Social Security and Medicare, it would be wise to accept fewer immigrants overall, but more high-earning ones, who will pay more in taxes over their working years than they will collect in benefits in retirement. Under the present policy favoring large numbers of low-wage earners, the United States is accumulating huge future social-insurance liabilities in exchange for relatively meager tax contributions now.

JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA

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