Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) signaled that she is open to a universal basic income – an idea that has been championed by fellow presidential contender Andrew Yang (D).
Warren expressed her willingness to consider a UBI, which quite literally amounts to the government handing individuals and families a “basic” income per month regardless of employment or income status, in a Washington Post survey that asked, “Should the federal government pay a universal basic income to every American adult?”
Three candidates were listed as supporting the measure – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Marianne Williamson (D), and Yang. Notably, two candidates were listed as “open to it” – Julián Castro (D) and Warren.
“We absolutely must raise wages and strengthen the social safety net so that every American has basic financial security. Universal basic income and universal living wages are options to consider,” Warren told the Post, noting her push for a $15 minimum wage.
To raise wages, I have pushed for a $15 minimum wage, stronger unions, and empowering American workers at big American corporations to elect no less than 40 percent of the company board members — giving workers a powerful voice in corporate decisions about wages and benefits.
Her position is drastically different than Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT), who typically holds similar views to Warren. He has openly expressed skepticism of a universal basic income, contending that his federal jobs guarantee is better because “people want to work.”
“We take a very different approach from Mr. Yang and that is I believe in a jobs guarantee,” Sanders told Hill.TV in August.
The challenge that we face is how do we use technology to improve the lives of working people. So if you have a really terrible job, a boring job and we make your job better and we enable you to work 20 hours a week rather than 40 hours a week, it’s not a bad thing…but it means to say you still need an income to live by, we can’t cut your salaries in half.
I asked @BernieSanders how he would deal with automation and why he believes a federal jobs guarantee is superior to UBI. "I think most people want to work…part of our humanity is when we are productive members of our society." FULL: https://t.co/LVc6fkTJOX #rising #yanggang pic.twitter.com/muTjY9Dwk7
— Krystal Ball (@krystalball) August 27, 2019
He repeated that sentiment to the Post:
Sanders believes that all Americans are entitled to economic rights. These include the right to a decent job with good pay, affordable housing, quality health care, a clean environment, and a secure retirement. We will guarantee a good-paying job to all Americans through a federal job guarantee program to ensure everyone has a decent quality of life. Furthermore, [Sanders] strongly supports the BOOST Act, introduced by Rep. [Rashida] Tlaib to guarantee all Americans an income.
Yang, a strong proponent of the measure, addressed Sanders’ critique.
“Bernie ignores the facts that money in our hands would 1) create hundreds of thousands of local jobs and 2) recognize and reward the nurturing work being done in our homes and communities every day,” he said.
“He also assumes that everyone wants to work for the government, which isn’t true,” Yang continued.
“It’s very strange – he seemed open and warm to the idea of a Universal Basic Income not too long ago,” he added. “Now he seems irritated every time it comes up”:
It’s very strange – he seemed open and warm to the idea of a Universal Basic Income not too long ago. Now he seems irritated every time it comes up.
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) August 27, 2019
Yang has argued that a guaranteed income will “Americans will work even harder”:
.@AndrewYang tells @margbrennan about his plan for a universal basic income, giving everyone $1000 a month. “The money will go right into local main street businesses… It will help rejuvenate American main street businesses and give us all a path forward.” pic.twitter.com/GHs48VItR7
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) August 18, 2019
However, numerous studies and experiments have idicated that a UBI does not necessarily leave recipients better off. The Washington Post analyzed the experiment on the small scale, in which a non-profit gave “20 African American single mothers living in public housing $1,000 each month for a year” with no strings attached. While the women were able to buy necessities, they also spent money on nonessentials, with one woman noting that she “blew all of it.”
Despite that, the Post did not necessarily deem the experiment a failure, blaming the lack of fruitful results on the participants’ “lack of ‘experience’ in handling discretionary income,” as Breitbart News reported.