For many years, the Heritage Foundation has partnered with the Republican Party on, well, just about everything. When Republican policymakers need aides, they often hire Heritage staffers. When Republican policymakers want to give a speech to raise their visibility, they schedule an event at Heritage. When reporters call GOP offices, asking for evidence to bolster one of the party's policy arguments, Republican staffers routinely send over Heritage materials.
But on immigration, the party and its favorite think tank are at odds. In fact, they're practically enemies.
The Heritage Foundation held a press conference this morning to unveil its new condemnation of comprehensive immigration reform, arguing that it will cost at least $6.3 trillion -- $9.4 trillion in government benefits, minus $3.1 trillion in tax revenue.
As a substantive matter, independent estimates, including research from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, make clear that Heritage's numbers are literally unbelievable.
As a political matter, though, I couldn't help but notice Republicans run to Politico to trash Heritage's work before the report was released.
[Opponents] reach that number by not considering the positive economic impacts of fixing our immigration system -- it's essentially a cost/benefit analysis that ignores the benefits while making very pessimistic assumptions about the potential costs. (Similarly, they also don't consider the costs of maintaining the status quo, or the likelihood of long-term reform of our entitlement systems). [...][A Republican source added,] "For Heritage, this criticism represents a real problem for the organization since they've long advocated dynamic scoring for other legislation, like tax cuts. Put simply: If Heritage and other conservatives don't insist on dynamic scoring when considering legislation, then we'll never be able to argue the benefits of a future tax cut. So conceding this issue is a big deal for conservatives and one Heritage is likely wrestling with internally."
One might expect the pushback to come from the White House or Sen. Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) office, but instead, much of the Republican leadership wants to get immigration reform done, so we're seeing Heritage pushback come from the GOP. Indeed, we're seeing Republicans push a Republican argument -- the value of "dynamic" scoring -- to discredit Heritage from the right.
Also note, Josh Dorner was in the room for Heritage's presentation this morning, and heard the author of Heritage's study concede his report is "not an analysis of the entire immigration reform bill," but more about comprehensive reform in general. Yeah, that ought to help bolster the credibility of the document.