Ensign Amendment Defeated

Earlier today, the Senate voted 50-49 to kill an amendment to the immigration bill offered by Senator John Ensign of Nevada that would have barred illegals from getting Social Security credit for the time when they were working illegally.

Ted Kennedy argued that those who become legal permanent residents shouldn’t be penalized because they were here illegally:

“Their money sits in the Social Security Administration waiting to be matched with an eligible beneficiary, and once those workers establish the eligibility, how in all fairness can we deny them the credit for their past contributions?” asked Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat.

But, as Senator Ensign pointed out, illegals often misappropriate other people’s social security numbers, which has caused nightmarish problems for many citizens whose Social Security work records have been confused or even deleted entirely.

Yesterday there was a lot of discussion yesterday about whether it is fair to say that the Senate bill provides “amnesty” for illegal aliens. (John McCain’s “Call it a banana” was one of the low points of that debate.) Under the Senate bill, illegals will get Social Security credit for contributions made when they were working in violation of the law, resulting, in many instances, in their receiving benefits that far exceed those contributions. In view of that fact, it’s hard to see how the “amnesty” label can be considered inappropriate.

UPDATE: Senator Bill Frist expresses his unhappiness with the defeat of the Ensign amendment:

I believe that illegal immigrants who work in America with forged papers and false Social Security numbers should not qualify for the benefits owed to hard-working Americans.

Moreover, when illegals use false numbers, the American who possesses that number may face tax liability based on that illegal work, IRS audits, and numerous credit problems.

So, Senator Ensign proposed an amendment to the immigration reform legislation on the Senate floor that would guarantee that illegal aliens cannot accumulate credit to qualify for Social Security using false Social Security numbers.

Senator Ensign’s amendment represents common sense and fiscal responsibility by refusing to reward illegal work when Social Security is facing such long-term difficulties. I strongly supported the amendment and I voted for it.

Unfortunately, common sense and fiscal responsibility are all too rare in Washington, D.C. So, despite my efforts, the Ensign Amendment failed this afternoon by a vote of 49-50.

ONE MORE: A correspondent comments on Ted Kennedy’s claim that employers’ money “sits in the Social Security Administration waiting to be matched with an eligible beneficiary” :

That scotch soaked sack o’ suet said:

“Their money sits in the Social Security Administration waiting…”

Since LBJ made Social Security a part of the general fund, there hasn’t been a dime of witholding sitting and waiting for anything. Any monies collected for social security are spent on things like a bridge in Alaska, or a new highway for Trent Lott.

Yes, good point. Kennedy’s image is a throwback to the days when millions of people believed that their Social Security contributions were kept for them by the government in an account with their name on it.

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