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The Case For Universal Basic Income


Today Donald Trump laid out his economic plan, and later this week Hillary Clinton will do the same. They’ve got different ideas about how to help American workers, yet there’s one idea neither of them has mentioned to date – a universal basic income. Today on Think, Krys Boyd talked about the idea with Andy Stern, a senior fellow at Columbia University. He’s the author of "Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream."

The KERA Interview

Andy Stern on

…  why we need a universal basic income:  

“The opportunity to work is going to become harder and harder to achieve in the future as technology continues to accelerate, and so in addition to ending poverty it becomes a safety net or a shock absorber, a floor for people to ensure, as a supplement to work not a substitute for work, to guarantee there’s a certain amount of safety in your life.”

 … who would get it:

“My proposal is everyone 18 to 64 would receive a check of $1,000 a month. $1,000 is because today the poverty rate for a single individual is, I think, $11,900 a year. So this in actuality, statistically, ends poverty - although we all wonder how $1,000 a month can really be a living wage for almost anybody. It goes to people 18 to 64 first of all, not to their children, and it only goes to citizens. And then people over 64, if your social security is less than $1,000 a month, which sadly lots of people’s social security is less than that or you don’t receive social security … you would get the $1,000 a month as well.”

… how to pay for it:    

“You can’t build this on top of the existing welfare system alone. You have to begin to deconstruct some of the welfare programs that are cash transfers. There’s 122 cash transfer programs of different varieties in the federal government, and so I say, for the $1.7 trillion you’re trying to get there’s probably five or $600 billion that can come from that part of the budget. There’s another $1.3 trillion that are called tax expenditures, which are really giving a different form of welfare to a different group of people, more middle class and upper middle class … so now we’re starting to have a conversation where the numbers get to be realistic.”