The Covid-19 outbreak is preventing workers from collecting a paycheck, blowing up unemployment rolls, sending capital income into the red, and devastating job-seekers. To ensure families can keep paying their bills, United States policymakers are increasingly considering emergency cash transfers and universal basic income.
The first proposals arrived on March 12, when Democratic Representatives Ro Khanna, Tim Ryan, and Tulsi Gabbard proposed different forms of monthly payments of $1,000 per adult. The most recent is the House Democrats’ HEROES Act, which gives one-time payments of $1,200 per person, phasing out for incomes above $75,000 ($150,000 for married filers). Democrats and Republicans in the House, Senate, and White House have proposed 20 total cash transfer and UBI policies, including the CARES Act, signed on March 27, which provides one-time payments up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child, depending on 2019 income (or 2018 if you haven’t filed yet for 2019).
Eight of the 20 proposals — from Gabbard, Mitt Romney, Bernie Sanders, Ilhan Omar, Joe Kennedy III, Maxine Waters, Rashida Tlaib, and Justin Amash — resemble UBI in that they are given to everyone regardless of income.1 By skipping reliance on 2018 or 2019 IRS tax return data, UBI can be distributed quickly without excluding people whose financial situation has changed.
These emergency cash transfer proposals vary by amount, inclusion of children, whether they phase out with income, frequency, and other factors. To keep track of them all, I made this spreadsheet, which breaks each proposal down by 17 features (snapshot below). I’ll continue to update it as discussions in Washington evolve.
Updated May 12, 2020. For more UBI Center research on Covid-19 emergency cash transfers and UBIs, visit ubicenter.org/covid19.
Kennedy’s proposal also has a means-tested component. ↩
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