"I thought Universal Basic Income was a good idea in the absence of this crisis, but it's more urgent than ever. It's literally life or death," former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang said during a recent live Q&A on Bloomberg TV, returning to one of the core planks of his campaign.
Yang addressed the concerns of Americans who are living "in desperation" and shared a quick anecdote of a restaurateur whose establishment shut down due to the national lockdown, even though her business previously "looked good on paper."
Yang's anecdote may speak to mounting concerns about economic stability precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic, as the economic effects of the pandemic are affecting several sectors of industry.
"I've had people in my district, Silicon Valley, tech professionals who've lost their jobs," Rep. Ro Khanna was quoted as saying in a New York Times op-ed, a sentiment that challenges the argument that hourly wage workers are the only ones who might need stimulus funds.Rep. Khanna echoed Yang's suggestion of a $2,000 per month Universal Basic Income (UBI). This UBI would, according to like-minded legislators and voters, alleviate the financial hardship of American citizens who were unexpectedly sidelined by the pandemic, regardless of how healthy their finances had looked previously.
According to The Appeal's coverage of a recent poll from Data for Progress and The Justice Collaborative Institute, 66 percent of Americans prefer recurring payments that are not contingent upon any taxpayer status. This position may be seen to stand in contrast with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which offers stimulus funding based on income level and tax eligibility.
According to critics, the CARES Act has left many Americans behind — and will continue to — unless Congress pushes for Universal Basic Income in the form of recurring payments.The Guardian columnist John Harris also spoke in favor of Universal Basic Income and added how pre-pandemic views of UBI's long-term viability were based on people's binary thinking concerning the correlation between work and a person's value, which he defined as "winners and precarious losers."
However, as the repercussions of the pandemic threaten the broader American economy, boosters of the UBI suggest that even economic "winners" can fall into economic desperation in the face of a significant downturn.
Yang's primary motivation for introducing UBI as his signature policy was the displacement of workers as a result of rapid advances in automation, but displacement due to the pandemic accelerated the need for economic support, from his perspective.
Furthermore, he suggests that recurring payments to American citizens cannot be postponed for a later time due to the severity of unemployment.According to Yang, 70 members of Congress are in support of a bill which would offer $2,000 a month to Americans, perhaps mitigating financial hardship during the pandemic.