Stephen Moore: Investor immigrant visa program would stimulate US economy

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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

One way President Donald Trump built the best economy in 30 years was by attracting nearly $1 trillion of foreign capital to these shores. This money got invested in new business startups and expanded existing Made-in-America businesses. This “repatriation tax holiday” worked like a charm. Millions of jobs were created — and this was a major contributing factor to the American economic sonic boom.

Now, we’ve been flattened by a pandemic, and the rebuilding job is underway. We need another infusion of investment capital into the U.S. — and quickly — to get the 25 million jobs back that were lost when businesses went under.

There’s an easy way to grease the skids of this early-stage recovery — and unlike all the other multitrillion proposals that Nancy Pelosi is flouting, which would send our national debt into the stratosphere, this plan costs taxpayers ZERO dollars. It actually reduces the budget deficit.

I am speaking of creating a new investment and job creation visa program. This would give a visa to up to 100,000 foreigners each year who invest $500,000 or more in an American business or a new enterprise. The investment must create a minimum of five to 10 jobs for Americans.

In the early 1990s, the feds set up the EB-5 program that created tens of thousands of jobs and brought in tens of billions in capital. But the program also was criticized for a handful of widely publicized cases of fraud. These were rare but cast a shadow over the program.

But many countries like Canada and Germany have such programs, and they have successfully attracted high-caliber and valuable immigrant talent. If they can’t come to the U.S., then the money will flow to our competitor nations.

The theme of this program is that immigrants who benefit Americans are huge assets. We know that many of the foreign nationals who will participate in the program will be proven successful business operators. Most immigrants are entrepreneurial and risk-takers by their very nature.

We also know from experience that these newcomers who come with money typically buy homes and spend money on everything from food to cars to education to entertainment to cell phones, computers and medical products. It is not unusual for these successful immigrants from all parts of the world to double or even triple their initial investment through their spending and further investments.

Why not adopt a program of 50,000 to 100,000 investor immigrant visas per year. This would attract $50 billion to $100 billion in investment capital yearly to these shores. There might be an extra incentive if the investment is made in poor areas, where jobs and capital is scarce.

The Trump administration has been skeptical of this type of program, but it fits with the president’s desire to shift to a merit-based immigrant system. These immigrants create jobs for Americans; they don’t take them.

Think of the impact on America’s economic future from admitting each year just one or two more amazing immigrant success stories like Andrew Grove, from Hungary and founder of Intel, or Russian-born Sergey Brin, founder of the $1 trillion American company Google. They are out there waiting to come to the United States and prosper. Let them come.

Stephen Moore is a co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity and an economist with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of “Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy.”

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