Immigration and Obama's carbon reduction claims

Two senators opposed to the Gang of Eight immigration bill are telling only half the story with their claims that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office warned the bill would be bad for wages and unemployment. That may be true over the next decade, but the CBO's conclusion was just the opposite for the long term. Moreover, the CBO said it is not clear whether the bill would negatively impact most current American workers even in the short term.

On June 23, Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, said, "We have to remember at the end of the day, that CBO told us early this week that this will be bad for wages. It will be bad for unemployment."

Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, said "We're going to have lower wages and higher unemployment according to the CBO analysis of this bill. Why would any member of Congress want to vote for a bill at a time of high unemployment, falling wages, to bring in a huge surge of new labor that can only hurt the poorest among us the most?"

The Congressional Budget Office's estimates that the average wages for the entire labor force would be 0.1 percent lower in 2023 and 0.5 percent higher in 2033 under the legislation than under current law. Average wages would be slightly lower than under current law through 2024, primarily because the amount of capital available to workers would not increase as rapidly as the number of workers and because the new workers would be less skilled and have lower wages, on average, than the labor force under current law. However, the rate of return on capital would be higher under the legislation than under current law throughout the next two decades.

The legislation would particularly increase the number of workers with lower or higher skills but would have less effect on the number of workers with average skills. As a result, the wages of lower- and higher-skilled workers would tend to be pushed downward slightly (by less than percent) relative to the wages of workers with average skills.

Obama's Climate Change Plan

Obama said that, "Since 2006, no country on Earth has reduced its total carbon pollution by as much as the United States of America." That's accurate in terms of the amount of emissions reduced. But dozens of nations have reduced their carbon dioxide emissions by a larger percentage than the U.S., which is second only to China in total emissions.

In 2011, the U.S. emitted ~5,490 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That was second only to China, which emitted ~8,715 million metric tons. In fact, the U.S. carbon dioxide emissions reduction of over 430 million metric tons since 2006 is more than most countries emit in a single year. Only 14 countries, including the U.S. and China, emitted more than that amount of carbon dioxide in 2011. The U.S. reduced its CO2 emissions by 7.32 percent from 2006 to 2011.

But more than 40 nations had a larger percentage reduction than the U.S., including France (10.10 percent), Germany (12.01 percent), Italy (14.24 percent), Spain (14.41 percent) and the United Kingdom (15.15 percent) - all of which committed to reducing emissions under the Kyoto Protocol that took effect in 2005 and has been extended through 2020. The United States did not ratify the treaty. The nation with the largest reduction as a percentage since 2006 is the Republic of Tajikistan, which reduced its emissions by 64.71 percent.