…but she sure can read the polls.

Two years ago I could see it coming. The republicans were telegraphing their play book for 2008 way back in 2006.

Immigration.

In Missouri:

February 2008 SurveyUSA

12% – Immigration is most important issue for next president

January 2008 SurveyUSA

9% – Immigration is most important issue for next president

December 2007 SurveyUSA

9% – Immigration is most important issue for next president

Well, the poll numbers are going the direction the republicans want, but for announced candidate for governor and present State Treasurer Sarah Steelman (r) the facts are just too inconvenient:

Missouri treasurer misread illegal immigration study

By KIT WAGAR

The Star’s Jefferson City correspondent

In her first big policy foray since jumping into the race for governor, Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman last week went after a familiar target – illegal immigrants.

The Republican presented a report to a Senate committee, expounding on the burden that illegal workers place on the state and federal government. Such workers and their employers avoided paying between $242 million and $449 million a year in income and payroll taxes for Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance, she said.

“So the problem is quite evident,” Steelman said. “It also creates an unfair advantage for employers who are not paying those taxes over companies that do pay the required taxes.”

The problem was that Steelman’s numbers were based on the misinterpretation of a nationwide study.

Steelman’s report overstated the estimate of illegal workers in Missouri by 5,800 to 10,800 workers. It overstated the unemployment rate among illegal workers by more than two-thirds. It also assumed that not a single illegal immigrant living in Missouri works for an employer who withholds and pays payroll taxes….

tiny URL

Uh, I always understood that when something was actually “evident” it was based on evidence, you know, backed by facts. Read the whole thing – I especially love the excuse offered, when confronted with the truthiness of Steelman’s testimony, that sounded similar to the old musicians’ standby: “Close enough for Jazz!”

Oh, look! Here are some facts:

Immigration irrationality

…A. Immigrants receiving free public services such as health care

Reality Check 1:

Just a small fraction of America’s health care spending is used to provide publicly supported care to the nation’s undocumented immigrants, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

Overall, immigrants to the United States use relatively few health services, primarily because they are generally healthier than their American-born counterparts, according to the study by the nonprofit research organization.

The report – which appears in the November edition of the journal Health Affairs – estimates that in the United States about $1.1 billion in federal, state and local government funds are spent annually on health care for undocumented immigrants aged 18 to 64.

That amounts to an average of $11 in taxes for each U.S. household.

In contrast, a total of $88 billion in government funds were spent on health care for all non-elderly adults in 2000.

Reality Check 2:

Health care expenditures are substantially lower for immigrants than for US-born persons. Our study refutes the assumption that immigrants represent a disproportionate financial burden on the US health care system.

Reality Check 3:

Despite the important role that immigrants play in the U.S. economy, they disproportionately lack health insurance and receive fewer health services than native-born Americans. Some policymakers have called for limits on immigrants’ access to health insurance, particularly Medicaid, which are even more stringent than those already in place.

However, policies that restrict immigrants’ access to some health care services lead to the inefficient and costly use of other services (such as emergency room care) and negatively impact public health.

B. Immigrants not paying taxes

Reality Check 1:

Between one-half and three-quarters of undocumented immigrants pay federal and state income taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare taxes. And all undocumented immigrants pay sales taxes (when they buy anything at a store, for instance) and property taxes (even if they rent housing).

Reality Check 2:

As the debate over Social Security heats up, the estimated seven million or so illegal immigrant workers in the United States are now providing the system with a subsidy of as much as $7 billion a year.

Reality Check 3:

[The Texas] Comptroller’s office estimates that state revenues collected from undocumented immigrants exceed what the state spent on services, with the difference being $424.7 million….

Go. Read the whole thing. Follow the links.

And how did we know this would be in the republican play book for 2008 way back in 2006?:

Statewide Survey of Missouri Likely Voters

Topline Data

prepared for

Center for Immigration Studies

by

the polling compan, inc.

October 2006

2. Which of the following issues do you think is most important for your elected officials to focus on right now?  (READ AND ROTATED, ACCEPTED ONLY ONE)

30%     WAR IN IRAQ/TERRORISM

23%     HEALTHCARE/PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

12%     ECONOMY/JOBS

11%     IMMIGRATION

9%    EDUCATION

9%    MORAL ISSUES LIKE ABORTION AND TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE

2%    TAXES

3%    OTHER (VOLUNTEERED)

2%    DON’T KNOW (VOLUNTEERED)

*     REFUSED (VOLUNTEERED)

3. Which of the following issues related to immigration would you say is your biggest concern?  (READ AND ROTATED)

25%     BURDEN ON TAXPAYERS, SUCH AS HEALTH CARE AND SCHOOLS

13%     COMPROMISED NATIONAL SECURITY

11%     LOSS OF AMERICAN JOBS TO IMMIGRANTS

11%     IMMIGRANTS FAILURE TO ASSIMILATE OR BECOME PART OF AMERICAN CULTURE

5%    OVERCROWDING OF US CITIES AND TOWNS

5%    INCREASED CRIME AND DRUG ACTIVITY

3%    OTHER (VOLUNTEERED)

19%     ALL OF THE ABOVE (VOLUNTEERED)

6%    NONE OF THE ABOVE (VOLUNTEERED)

2%    REFUSED (VOLUNTEERED)

9. Which immigration policy would you prefer: (ROTATED) A large scale effort to round up and deport illegal immigrants OR a policy that strictly enforces immigration laws and causes illegal immigrants to go home over time OR one that allows illegal immigrants to stay and earn their way to permanent residence and citizenship.

48%     POLICY THAT ENFORCES LAWS

24%     POLICY THAT ALLOWS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS TO STAY

21%     LARGE SCALE ROUND UP AND DEPORTATION

5%    DON’T KNOW/DEPENDS (VOLUNTEERED)

2%    REFUSED (VOLUNTEERED)

[emphasis added]

In looking at the crosstabulations 17% of republican, 6% of Democrats, and 10% of Independents thought that Immigration was the most important issue for elected officials (October 2006).

The biggest concern when it came to Immigration was the “burden on taxpayers such as healthcare and schools” with 29% of republicans, 25% of Democrats, and 21% of Independents agreeing (October 2006).

Yep, Sarah Steelman can read poll numbers – and she knows how to cater to people who find facts inconvenient, you know, the republican base.

The deity looks aft
er fools and idiots, it’s just that everyone else suffers…