Key Point: In order to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, three rounds of stimulus checks were passed, which among other measures put money into the pockets of Americans. And while there have been both popular petitions and letters from members of Congress calling for the distribution of more checks, it has looked fairly certain for a while now that there isn’t going to be a fourth round of stimulus checks.
The Biden Administration has not called for such checks, with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki expressing skepticism about them in televised briefings. The major spending packages proposed by the Administration, including both infrastructure packages currently being debated in Congress, do not include an additional round of checks.
Now, though, one high-profile member of Congress has introduced legislation to directly distribute money—and to provide a guaranteed income to Americans.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), late last week, introduced a pair of measures: The Sending Unconditional Payments to People Overcoming Resistances to Triumph (SUPPORT) Act and the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) Act.
According to Omar’s website, the SUPPORT Act will “create a guaranteed income program of up to $1,200 per month for adults, and $600 for kids,” while the GPI Act will “provide an alternative economic metric to supplement GDP calculations and revamp our economic policy lenses by including overlooked socioeconomic and environmental costs and benefits of economic productivity.”
According to HuffPost, the guaranteed income would kick in in 2028.
Both bills have cosponsors, from among the progressive wing of Democrats in the House of Representatives. The GPI Act, in addition to Omar herself, is also sponsored by Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Marie Newman (D-IL). The SUPPORT Act is backed by Bowman, Bush, Evans and Jayapal, in addition to Omar.
“Poverty is a choice. For too long we have prioritized endless growth while millions are homeless, hungry or without healthcare” Rep. Omar said in a statement. “The pandemic has laid bare these inequalities. We as a nation have the ability to make sure everyone has their basic needs like food, housing and healthcare met. Building off successful pilot programs in my home state of Minnesota, I am proud to introduce a guaranteed income that will put money directly into the pockets of Minnesotans, and introduce a holistic economic measure that will ensure our economy is centered on the long-term prosperity of Minnesotans and Americans everywhere.”
Andrew Yang, in his presidential campaign in 2020, also proposed a guaranteed income for individuals.
The big question is whether such a measure would have majority or even filibuster-proof support in Congress, and it is very unlikely that it would. In addition, the Biden Administration has not endorsed any measure that comes close to what is in Omar’s bill.
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.