Giving every working age US citizen a guaranteed basic income would cost an estimated $2.16 trillion. About a trillion of that might come from cutting existing federal and state benefits for low-income Americans. That still leaves a huge gap, but there are ideas for filling that, including $100 million in carbon taxes, and cutting military spending.
There are, no doubt, real obstacles to making something like a guaranteed basic income work, but one of the real questions is raises is what a monthly government check might do to people’s relationship with work. It’s a complex question.
The other blocking consideration behind all of this, however, is the idea’s political feasibility. The U.S. is still licking the wounds left over from a divisive fight over extending healthcare benefits; something like a basic income would likely be even more polarizing.
And yet, there are conservatives who seem to be in favor of a guaranteed basic income, as a way of simplifying government programs and giving more choice to recipients. That’s what this attached article is about.
My interest in this issue right now centers on the growing importance of this question as our economy continues to automate.