House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed a willingness to look into instituting a universal basic income for the American people, which was the centerpiece of Democrat Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign.
Pelosi pointed out Monday on MSNBC that ‘others have suggested a minimum income, a guaranteed income for people. Is that worthy of attention now? Perhaps so.’
Congress already passed one bill to combat the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic that included cash payments to Americans.
On Monday on MSNBC, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed a willingness to look at universal basic income, a concept that was the centerpiece of Democrat Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign
Andrew Yang, photographed at a Democratic primary debate in September in Texas, pitched giving Americans over the age of 18 $1,000 a month, every month, which he named the ‘freedom dividend’
Official statistics from the Labor Department show 26.5 million people in the US have filed for unemployment benefits since March 15. The chart above shows the number of people submitting applications each week
The Congressional Budget Office released a report last week predicting that 27 million Americans will lose their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis this year. The CBO’s jobless rate projections per quarter are shown in the graph above
Universal basic income, the way Yang pitched it, would come in the form of $1,000 payments to every American over 18 and would be doled out every month.
On the campaign trail, Yang called the concept the ‘freedom dividend.’
‘There’s nothing stopping us from making it happen. There’s nothing stopping a majority of citizens of a democracy from passing ourselves a dividend,’ Yang pitched to voters at the 2019 Iowa State Fair.
‘Companies do it all the time, every day, and when companies do it, what do we say? Great job, good management,’ Yang pointed out. ‘We are the owners of this country, we can return some of it to ourselves and that’s the only way we’re going to get it back.’
Yang responded positively to Pelosi’s comments.
‘I applaud Speaker Pelosi for publicly endorsing the consideration of a guaranteed income for all Americans,’ Yang said in a statement.
‘This pandemic has unfortunately exposed serious weaknesses in our economy with alarming unemployment rates and crippling impact on every professional industry,’ he said.
Andrew Yang responded to a satirical tweet from the ‘Daily Show’ that showed him cussing when he found out that Republican Sen. Mitt Romney had embraced UBI, ‘I’m pumped about it actually’
‘While checks during this mandated stay-at-home period are a good start, we need a universal basic income permanently in order to insure that Americans are prepared in an event of the next economic downturn, no matter the scale,’ Yang added.
Despite dropping out of the 2020 race in February, Yang’s team has both reached out to lawmakers and been on the receiving end of interest coming from Capitol Hill in recent weeks.
‘We’ve been literally working to reach out to legislators who have expressed interest in different versions of stimulus checks and UBI-like proposals, that includes AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez], the office of Mitt Romney, and of course Tim Ryan who has a fine piece of legislation to guide folks through this current period of turmoil,’ a Yang adviser told DailyMail.com.
Earlier this month, Ryan, a former 2020 presidential contender, and Rep. Ro Khanna, a co-chair of Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign, introduced legislation that would give citizens over 16, and who make less than $130,000, $2,000 a month.
The payments would go out until employment bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, the release said.
‘We’ve been thrilled to see members of Congress reach out to us to continue the dicussion, like Sen. Mark Warner, who will be making an appearance on Andrew’s podcast in the near future,’ Yang’s adviser also said.
While Ryan, Khanna and Warner are all Democrats like Yang, Republicans including Romney and Sen. Tom Cotton have expressed interest in UBI too.
In response to a satirical tweet from the ‘Daily Show’ that showed Yang shouting profanity because Romney embraced the concept of giving Americans $1,000 a month, the former candidate responded, ‘I’m pumped about it actually.’
On Tuesday, Kevin Hassett, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters that the White House is studying the idea of further stimulus payments like the $1,200 ones passed by Congress that are currently being handed out.
WHY UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME IS HAVING A MOMENT
The idea of paying everyone a fixed amount every month is not particularly new – Martin Luther King Jr. proposed it in 1967 – but has become popular among some, mostly left-of-center, economists since the 2008 crash.
Most of its backers argue that rapidly-changing technology has left large parts of the workforce behind, such as manufacturing jobs being replaced by robots and other roles left behind by automation.
They also warn that the 2008 bailout of banks created economies which rely on big business and financial products rather than individual consumers and employees.
Among the sectors they warn are going to be hit in the future are transportation, with truckers replaced by robot trucks, and retailing, with stores being replaced by online orders fulfilled by increasing layers of automated systems, even bringing food to the doorstop by drones or self-driving delivery trucks.
The new economy, people like Elon Musk argue, simply cannot create jobs to replace those which vanish – and is sharply-divided into people who thrive in it, such as the Silicon Valley elite – and those who don’t including swathes of blue-collar workers left without prospects.
The solution, they say, is to provide a minimum income for everyone rather than means-tested and time-limited benefits.
Those who are left behind would know where they stand, governments’ cost of administering benefits and welfare programs would be slashed, and economies would be more stable in times of recession.
The arguments were academic until now – with unemployment already at 26.5 million thanks to the coronavirus crisis.
Now backers say that a minimum guaranteed income will help not just the unemployed but those in work facing pay cuts and uncertainty. It will force money into the retail economy rather than into the financial markets, because the recipients will spend it.
Many backers see the trillions of dollars directed at holding up the banks and largest companies by the federal reserve as trickle-down economics which has no certainty of reaching the neediest, even if it averts a financial collapse.
And they say, Congress and the Trump administration has already gone one step in the direction of universal basic income.
The one-off bailout payment of up to $1,200 to everyone earning under $99,000 a year individually is a start but should be followed with regular payments, they argue.
Rashida Tlaib, the Michigan Democratic congresswoman who is part of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s ‘squad’ has called for the Treasury to produce $1 trillion platinum coins to allow every American to be sent a $2,000 pre-loaded debit card and $1,000 top-up every month until the end of the crisis.
Her claim – one which has entered mainstream left-of-center economics in recent years – is that the government debt it would create does not matter and that concern over repaying it is overblown.
Critics of universal basic income say it is flawed precisely because of the debt it racks up; they also say it removes ‘moral hazard’ from the capitalist system by allowing people to be jobless; and that it could trigger inflation.
Up to 13.9 million Americans are out of work but have NOT been able to register for unemployment benefits, Economic Policy Institute survey finds
Millions of Americans who have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic have been unable to register for unemployment benefits since the US economy entered a free fall, according to a poll released on Tuesday.
The left-leaning Economic Policy Institute found in an online poll that for every 10 people who have successfully filed unemployment claims, three or four people have been unable to register and another two people have not tried to apply at a time of acute economic crisis.
Official US statistics show that 26.5 million people have applied for unemployment benefits since March 15, wiping out all of the jobs gained during the longest employment boom in American history.
EPI’s survey indicates that an additional 8.9 million to 13.9 million people have been shut out of the system, according to Ben Zipperer, the study’s lead author.
‘This study validates the anecdotes and news reports we’re seeing about people having trouble filing for benefits they need and deserve,’ Zipperer said.
Millions of Americans who have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic have been unable to register for unemployment benefits since the US economy entered a free fall, according to a new survey from the Economic Policy Institute. Pictured: People line up outside the Arkansas Workforce Center waiting to file for unemployment benefits on April 6
EPI’s survey of more than 24,600 people found that for every 10 who have successfully filed unemployment claims, three or four have been unable to register and another two people have not tried to apply because it was too difficult
EPI’s survey indicates that 8.9 million to 13.9 million people have been shut out of the system
Idled workers say they have encountered downed websites and clogged phone lines, as the state governments that administer the program have been overwhelmed by applicants.
‘It’s a shame how you work for so many years and then when you need it, you can’t get it,’ said Jim Hewes, 48, who told Reuters he was unable to file a claim online for more than two weeks after he was furloughed from his job at a second-hand store in Orlando, Florida, in March.
Hewes said he mailed off a paper application on April 9 but had not heard back from the state.
‘It’s almost set up to fail. It was made complicated so people would get discouraged and give up,’ he said.
EPI surveyed 24,607 US adult internet users using Google Surveys between April 13 and April 24.
Some 9.4 percent of poll respondents said they had successfully applied for unemployment benefits, while 3.4 percent said they tried but could not get through.
A further 1.9 percent said they did not apply because the process was too difficult.
The jobless rate has continued to soar in the days since the survey ended and is expected to reach 14 percent over the course of the coronavirus crisis, according to a Congressional Budget Office report released last week.
The CBO projected that 27 million Americans will find themselves out of work by the end of the second quarter in June.
Long lines have become a mainstay outside unemployment offices across the country as people look to file claims in person to avoid the overwhelmed online process.
People are seen waiting in line for help with unemployment benefits at the One-Stop Career Center in Las Vegas in March
Many Americans who managed to file claims have yet to receive payments weeks after they lost their jobs
States like New Jersey and Georgia have struggled to find staffers who know how to update computer systems that run on decades-old technology.
Others that have moved to newer technology have also encountered technical woes.
States have also had to incorporate enhanced federal benefits that provide an extra $600 per week and extend coverage to Uber drivers and other independent contractors.
On top of that, many states entered the crisis with fewer workers to handle unemployment claims as an improving economy had allowed them to cut staff.
States had the equivalent of 26,360 full-time workers in their unemployment offices in the 2018 fiscal year, according to the US Labor Department, down 30 percent from staffing levels during the peak of the Great Recession in 2009 and 2010.
Many Americans who managed to file claims have yet to receive payments weeks after they lost their jobs.
Labor Department statistics show that 71 percent who apply are getting payments, although that figure varies significantly by state.
Florida, for example, said on Saturday it had sent payments to roughly one in five of those who had successfully submitted claims.
Among those waiting are Rachel Alvarez, 44, who says she now hides snacks in her bedroom so her three children cannot eat them too quickly.
The former restaurant server in Naples, Florida, says she has run through her savings since she was laid off on March 25.
‘I have nothing,’ she said. ‘As much as I don’t want my kids to see me stress out, each one has seen me cry.’
‘I have lost all hope’: Single mom, 37, who filed for unemployment 44 days ago still hasn’t seen a single payment
A single mom from New Jersey who filed for unemployment 44 days ago is still waiting to receive a payout
Janine Mezger, 37, was laid off from her job as a Chili’s waitress in East Brunswick last month after the restaurant switched to take-out and delivery only due to coronavirus lockdowns.
She filed for unemployment on March 15 in hopes of receiving benefits before her bank account ran dry – but more than six weeks later, her application has gone unanswered.
‘When it happened, our managers were reassuring that unemployment would give what was needed and when it’s over, we can come back,’ Mezger told NJ.com on Monday.
‘I had about $500 of tips from that weekend so I was just praying unemployment would work quick.
‘Now it’s April 27 and I’m still waiting.’
Janine Mezger, 37, filed for unemployment on March 15 after she was laid off from her job as a Chili’s waitress in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Six weeks later the single mom (pictured with her 16-year-old daughter) still hasn’t seen a single payment
Mezger is one of the thousands of New Jersey residents who have filed for unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic but have yet to see a single cent in benefits.
More than 800,000 New Jerseyans have applied for benefits after being laid off, furloughed, or had their hours reduced, according to the latest state figures.
The Labor Department on Monday said that more than 550,000 of those filers are currently receiving payments from the state, along with an additional $600 weekly supplement from the federal government.
That means another 250,000 workers are still waiting for answers on their applications.
The delays have left many like Mezger in a dire situation.
The 37-year-old, who lives in an apartment with her 16-year-old daughter and their pet poodle, said she is currently behind on every bill and doesn’t know how she’ll be able to cover her May rent, which is due in just three days.
She’s even had to loan money from family members just to buy groceries.
‘I had to start asking my mom who is sick and on disability for money. It broke my heart,’ she said.
‘I was mortified when another family member called the other day and needed back the money he lent me. I had to say no.’
Unlike many who haven’t heard anything from the Labor Department, Mezger said she recently got a call from a representative who helped her take the next steps toward getting a payout.
‘[The representative] explained that I am eligible and I had to send over pay stubs they already received from my employer,’ Mezger said, noting that she sent the stubs while they were still on the phone.
‘She said: “Don’t worry. I’m going to put this straight through.”
‘My claim is now valid and I have yet to receive any money.’
Mezger said she is now placing roughly 50 calls per day to the Labor Department but never gets through.
She’s also tried emailing the agency, which always sends her the same automated response.
‘I have lost all hope and every day I hear Phil Murphy say: “Don’t worry. You won’t lose a dime,”‘ she said.
‘Well, how will that feed my kid and dog?’