As the novel coronavirus causes a plunge in oil prices and stock markets across the globe, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang voiced his support for a universal basic income (UBI) stimulus to help provide an economic cushion amid the COVID-19 crisis.
“I’m in favor of a #UBIStimulus to help people get through a very rough time,” Yang tweeted on Monday afternoon.
Hours later, around the time CNN reported that President Donald Trump was planning to enact a payroll tax cut to help hourly workers — and reports leaked of potential help for affected industries — Yang again expressed his belief that a UBI stimulus is necessary.
“Lower interest rates do nothing for the wage worker losing shifts and tips, for the mom stuck at home looking after her child because the school closed, for the restaurant or theatre losing business because people are staying in. The only stimulus that would work is #UBIStimulus.”
As reported by CBS News, some economists appear to be aligned with Yang’s approach. Paul Ashworth, the chief U.S. economist at independent research firm Capital Economics, expressed support for such a stimulus to help increase consumer spending and generate economic growth. Josh Bivens, director of research at the Economic Policy Institute, echoed Ashworth and pushed for “rapid direct payments to individuals.”
CBS News noted that if the coronavirus outbreak causes a prolonged economic downturn, the underlying result is likely to be a decline in consumer spending, which reportedly accounts for approximately two-thirds of economic activity.
PRESS RELEASE:— Heidi for Oregon (@HeidiBriones) March 10, 2020
I'm joining @MikeForKY and publishing a press release today in support of the #UBIStimulus proposal. I'm urging @SpeakerPelosi to immediately endorse and pass a universal basic income bill to help all Americans in the midst of #COVID2019 pic.twitter.com/VJKMzakVWM
According to Ashworth, a cash stimulus is necessary to cushion the economy.
“You need something that would be targeted at boosting people’s incomes in the near term — tax rebates, basically cash giveaways, that sort of thing.”
As for tax breaks and industry bailouts, Ashworth was less approving. In fact, he claimed that the former would only help if corporations are on the verge of bankruptcy, a scenario which he said is not currently on the horizon.
Providing a cash boost to consumers amid the current outbreak is not a new idea. Hong Kong has provided $10,000 Hong Kong Dollars, roughly $1,280 USD, to 7 million residents over the age of 18, BBC reported. The decision was reportedly made to decrease the impact of the virus on the economy and to ease political unrest.
As The Inquisitr reported, author and political analyst Anand Giridharadas recently suggested that corporate bailouts should not happen without concessions to the public. He also voiced support for an “Andrew Yang-style bailout” and supported piloting a temporary UBI during the COVID-19 crisis.