Tom Cotton Floats Universal Basic Income for Coronavirus Crisis

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., interrupts a fellow senator during a confirmation hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee for CIA nominee Gina Haspel, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, May 9, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is floating a plan to “get cash into the hands of affected workers and their families” due to national shutdowns of businesses in nearly every industry from the coronavirus outbreak.

In a series of posts online and in a Fox News Channel interview, Cotton said American workers who are being forced to stay home from their jobs due to shutdowns in the midst of the coronavirus crisis need immediate relief in the form of cash payments.

The monetary policy, known as Universal Basic Income (UBI), has made its way into the national spotlight over the last year thanks to businessman Andrew Yang. The policy could mean that American citizens affected by the coronavirus shutdowns would get $1,000 a month in cash.

Cotton suggested using existing social welfare agencies to put “cash in the hands of affected families.”

“We don’t want to see layoffs, we want to see people who are at home, if they have any reason to be at home, supported immediately,” Cotton said.

“This is an emergency measure that only needs to last for a few weeks if we all take the prudent steps necessary. That’s why I think we want to use systems like, say, Treasury [Department] refunds to anyone whose paid taxes in 2018 or unemployment systems or other social welfare agencies that are set up to quickly get cash into the hands of affected workers and their families,” Cotton said.

“We’re going to do everything we can to get cash into the hands of affected workers & families as quickly as possible so we can all get through this pandemic together,” Cotton wrote in a post.

The plan was most recently touted by Breitbart News’ Economic Editor John Carney, who called on Congress to implement a policy in which $1,000 is awarded to every American citizen:

We need to put cash into the hands of the American people as quickly as possible. [Emphasis added]

I propose $1,000 of cash for every U.S. citizen. A family of four gets $4000 per month for the duration of the crisis. Bigger families get more. This boost of income will allow Americans to build emergency savings without having to drastically cut down on their spending. [Emphasis added]

This will not stop all the job losses but it will make them less painful. More importantly, it will make it far less likely that we go from stage one to stage two. It will make it more likely that the economic emergency can be contained to frontline effects. [Emphasis added]

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) also suggested a UBI policy to help American workers and families affected by the coronavirus shutdowns:

Romney’s indication to provide $1,000 to every “American adult” would mean that all adults receive the cash payments even if they do not need it.

Oppositely, a source close to Cotton’s office confirmed to Breitbart News that the plan should be progressive in that if an individual makes enough money, they do not get the cash payment. The threshold for individuals or families when it comes to the exact income level under which they would qualify for the cash payment is still being deliberated.

What’s more, Cotton is expected to offer his ideas as a serious alternative to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) House-passed plan, which she negotiated with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Millions of American workers are already being forced to stay home from their jobs as restaurants, bars, and other businesses have been required to close in major cities like New York City and in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Illinois.

These service industry workers generally rely on tips and minimum wage to pay their rents, mortgages, and other monthly bills. Often, they have no longtime financial security in place to tap into during emergency situations.

In total, the latest JPMorgan Chase analysis finds that about 1-in-3 American families do not have any savings and nearly half of Americans would struggle to pay $400 to cover an emergency.

“Putting money into people’s hands is the obvious thing to do in this situation,” Yang wrote online. “I hope Congress wakes up to this before it’s too late. Every day is enormous at this point.”

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.

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