$1,400 Stimulus Checks Forever? Some Democrats Love the Idea.

Stimulus Check Forever

$1,400 Stimulus Checks Forever? Some Democrats Love the Idea.

It’s an idea known as Universal Basic Income, which involves some level of direct payments by the government to citizens, on a monthly or otherwise regular basis.

 

The American Rescue Plan is currently distributing stimulus checks of around $1,400 to most eligible Americans, and along with the two other stimulus packages that passed in 2020, the direct payments have proven very popular.

There is interest in the passage of a fourth stimulus package, although it’s unlikely to pass in the immediate future. But in the meantime, the proposal has been made to make stimulus payments permanent.

 

It’s an idea known as Universal Basic Income, which involves some level of direct payments by the government to citizens, on a monthly or otherwise regular basis.

The idea was pushed by Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang in the 2020 presidential campaign, although it’s a much older idea than that, including by the likes of Martin Luther King.

The Alaska Permanent Fund presents payments to every Alaskan citizen from the state’s oil revenues and has since the 1970s.

Michael Tubbs, the former mayor of Stockton, California, experimented in recent years with presenting $500 a month to families in that city. Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, has proposed a plan for a UBI in that city, per the Los Angeles Times.

Is permanent Universal Basic Income something that the United States should consider, even beyond a fourth or fifth stimulus package to last the rest of the pandemic? Business Insider recently looked at that question.

The $1,200 checks were passed as part of the CARES Act in early 2020. Shortly after that, two senators, Bernie Sanders and the now-Vice President Kamala Harris, pushed for $2,000 monthly checks for the rest of the pandemic, although the bill did not pass, per CNBC.

 "Through the course of this pandemic and crisis, we need to give people $2,000 a month as recurrent payments — people below a certain income level — to help them and sustain them through these months of crisis so at the end of it, they can get back up on their feet instead of falling deep deep deep into the crevices of this crisis,” Harris said at the time.

MSNBC recently ran a segment saying that the UBI proposals have “gained steam” of late, with Tubbs, the former mayor in California, stating that “we can trust regular people with money, just like we trust millionaires and billionaires with tax cuts.”

The arguments against a permanent stimulus, especially one that would outlast the pandemic, is that it would disincentivize work, and encourage people to collect the UBI instead of getting a job. How much of a worry that it might depend on the size of the payments. Concerns have also been raised about how expensive the proposal is, and whether it would overheat the economy.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.