You are here

Give Everyone Money!

The economy is going to collapse. People are going to stay home, be unable to work, not be able to pay bills. We need a stimulus package to prevent a deflationary spiral. Policy analysts and legislators are now calling for a direct bailout (stimulus) for the people or an emergency temporary universal basic income (emergencyUBI). The gist of the plan is to give every adult American citizen $1000 per month as long as the crisis continues and possibly an additional $500 for children. There's several similar proposals on the table.

Here's a list of legislators that are supporting the temporary UBI or a similar direct stimulus plan:
Mitt Romney (Republican)
Mitch McConnell (Republican)
Tom Cotton (Republican)
Tulsi Gabbard (Democrat)
Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez (Democrat)
Katie Porter (Democrat)
Earl Blumenauer (Democrat)
Adam Schiff (Democrat)
Ilhan Omar (Democrat)
Joe Kennedy III (Democrat)

Here's a list of other legislators that I think are likely to jump on board with emergency UBI at some point:
Elizabeth Warren (Democrat)
Justin Amash (Independent- was Republican until recently)
Marco Rubio (Republican)
Ted Cruz (Republican)
Newt Gingrich (Republican)
Ted Deutch (Democrat)
Michael Bennet (Democrat)
Bernie Sanders (Democrat)
Chuck Schumer (Democrat)

Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer, and Justin Amash are currently supporting a more limited approach, targetting cash transfers to people affected by the crisis. Their approach will be more difficult to implement in the heat of the crisis, so a universal cash transfer is better. Marco Rubio has strong distributist and property-owning democracy sentiments. A recent opinion piece by Rubio read like a tract of Hilaire Belloc or G.K. Chesterton, so I think he's likely to get on board with emergency UBI. Ted Cruz and Newt Gingrich are both taking covid19 very seriously and calling for drastic measures. Deutch and Bennet have supported similar policies in the past, so it makes sense to assume they will be on board. Bernie Sanders seems likely to get on board with it too. Like Ted Cruz, Sanders is a staunch opponent of universal basic income in general, but a temporary basic income seems like something he would get behinds since his normal objections don't apply. Also, his former economic advisor, Stephanie Kelton, is on board and his biggest stan, Robert Reich, is also on board with emergencyUBI.

It seems likely that Donald Trump would sign an emergency UBI bill if it came to his desk. Prior to running for President as a Republican, he was an advocate of progressive policies like single-payer Medicare for All and a wealth tax (the same policies that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been campaigning on). Plus, he doesn't seem to have a fixed ideology, so he'll likely do whatever he thinks will make him more popular (which a cash transfer would likely do). And, Trump has been taking covid19 very seriously since he and his family was exposed to it. He's calling for bars, restaurants, and public spaces, including schools, to be closed in places where there is community spread. He's declared a state of emergency. And he's desperate to do whatever it takes to fix this and keep covid19 from costing him the re-election.

We should be talking about these ideas and making sure our representatives know that we support this.

Also being discussed are proposals for guaranteeing paid sick leave for all, mobilizing the National Guard to ramp up manufacture of face masks and ventilators, etc. And, thanks to Rep Katie Porter, CDC will be making covid19 tests free. We're seeing bipartisan efforts to deal with the crisis, something we haven't seen since Trump took office. Good ideas and policies are being promoted by folks on both sides of the aisle.

Places to look to for guidance are China, South Korea, and Japan. By closing schools nationwide and encouraging people to stay home, Japan has drastically slowed the spread. South Korea has had success with widespread testing and quarantining. Unlike other places that have only been testing people with symptoms, South Korea has been testing "healthy" people too, thereby catching cases in which the person with the virus was asymptomatic. Quarantining of people who are asymptomatic carriers is desperately needed. China's approach has been to lockdown places where there are outbreaks. These measures have kept the crisis from being as bad as it would have been otherwise.

Going forward, there's a lesson to be learned from looking at countries with a social democracy or a social market economy approach. It turns out, these countries have the lowest death rates reported in the world. This is because of a combination of their universal healthcare systems and their efficient governments. The case of Italy demonstrates that universal healthcare systems with state of the art medicine isn't necessarily sufficient in itself. Without efficient government to (1) take appropriate action to "flatten the curve" or slow the spread to prevent the overwhelming of hospitals and (2) take appropriate action to guarantee supply of medical equipment like masks and ventilators, a state of the art healthcare system won't save us.

It's too late to fix the fact that we don't have a decent universal healthcare system in time to prevent this crisis, but let's let that be a lesson for the future. There's a ton of decent progressive and conservative universal healthcare options to choose from. We need bipartisan action to fix our healthcare system going forward. Milton Friedman and Martin Feldstein, two of Ronald Reagan's chief economic advisors, had excellent universal healthcare plans.

The good news is that politicians on both sides are finally taking this seriously and it looks like the government is going to be taking action to slow the spread and try to keep medical supplies from running out. Hopefully they follow through because this will save millions of lives!

Commenting on this Blog entry will be automatically closed on May 16, 2020.