Really Bad Immigration Bill Numbers at the Washington Post (corrected version)

I wrote a short note a couple of days ago about an article in the Washington Post on the immigration bill passed by the Senate. I wrote that the article used an estimate from CBO that was based on an error in the bill's wording that would almost surely be corrected before the final passage.

After someone sent me a note, I reread the CBO report and I realized that the article had correctly reported the spending in the bill, as projected by CBO. However, it had neglected to mention the increase in tax revenue that CBO projected based on the corrected wording.

The headline and the article itself referred to $126 billion in spending over 10 years (0.4 percent of projected spending). This figure is correct. However, the net cost of the bill, after taking into account the projected increase in tax revenue, is $83 billion over ten years, or 0.2 percent of projected spending.

The article should have focused on the net cost, but I should have gotten my numbers right.

--Dean Baker

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