Transcript: Q&A with Rep. John Delaney on the impacts of immigration on the U.S. economy – Joint Economic Committee hearing on May 7, 2013

Partial transcript of Q&A with Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) on the impacts of immigration on the U.S. economy. The Joint Economic Committee hearing was held on May 7, 2013:

Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.):
…I’ve always been a big believer that the cost of doing nothing is not nothing, and we oftentimes don’t realize the cost of inaction until it’s too late to fix the issue.

And Sen. Klobuchar, I think, spoke very eloquently about the fact that how important immigrants have been to our economy in creating the leading businesses. Half of the Fortune 400 [are] immigrant founders or children of immigrants. The same is true today, I think, in the last five years, more than half of the companies that have gone public in the technology sector that received venture capital backing were founded by immigrants.

And a lot of this is because our country has significant relative advantages, right? We have the rule of law. We have free markets. We have large-scale and stable economy. We have some shortfalls obviously but we have significant relative advantages. One of our, probably, singular advantages is the fact that the majority of the world wants to come to our country. You know 7 billion people in the world – I’m not sure how many but 5, 6 billion of them probably if they had their way would want to come to the United States and enjoy the benefits, the freedom that we all have a privilege of experiencing…

But it gets to this notion that in a world that is changing because of globalization and technology and as we see emerging economic centers around the world developing and competing with us, it feels to me like we enter this debate as if we have time to work through this. And I agree the way you’ve framed it, Mr. Norquist, we should spend time getting this right. But as if we’ll always have the ability to just flip a switch and fix the problem and everyone will want to come here.

Is there a chance in your judgement that unless we fix this issue and really change the orientation to how we think about this issue that at some point in the future – 5, 10, 15, 20 years – this singular advantage we have where so many people wake up and want to come to the United States may in fact not exist? And while that’s very difficult to measure, we can measure our debt to GDP very – we can measure it a hundred different ways. It’s hard to measure this relative qualitative advantage that we have and I worry that unless we get this right that it’ll affect…

Dr. Adriana D. Kugler, Professor at Georgetown University and Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Labor in 2011 and 2012:
That’s a really great question and I think there are not only short-term gains but long-term gains that can be made as a result of immigration. Of course, in the short-term you have this increased consumption and ripple effects through the economy, increased taxes, and all of that is going to help us in the short-term.

But in the long-term, there is some more serious issues. There is the issue of innovation. There is the issue of continued job creation and continued entrepreneurship. In fact, we have seen less and less people come to the U.S. and less creation of venture-backed firms by immigrants in the recent years. And so it is very important to take that into account because we also know that these new businesses are predominately being formed by foreign-born individuals tend to be more productive, they tend to be more innovative, they contribute more greatly to job growth. And so if this doesn’t happen, we’re running the risk that in the future these jobs are not going to be there and they may even go to other countries.

For example, the B-5 program has been a move to bring people to the U.S. and there is this start-up visas that are being proposed, which also take advantage of angel investors and venture-backed capital. But we also know that countries like Canada, like Australia and other countries are already attracting many other people through those visas.

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform:
Short answer is yes. The other team gets time at bat. In the ’80s we dropped our marginal tax rates and we were growing faster than everybody else and the Europeans say, “Hey, we could do that too!” And their corporate income tax is now an average of 25%; we’re at 35%, and that’s the European average. You know, stupider than France is not where we want to be. Other countries can move ahead of us both in how they deal with immigration but we have some time but not an endless amount of time. And we could end up in a situation where people are perfectly happy to show up in Canada and Australia and Singapore.


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