As Congress races to iron out a stimulus package for coronavirus relief before Friday’s spending deadline, some progressive lawmakers and other supporters of universal basic income are expressing dismay that the leading compromise plan does not include direct payments to Americans.
“If a stimulus bill passes without cash relief it should be regarded as a failure that will fail to reach tens of millions of Americans—voters—who need it desperately,” tweeted entrepreneur Andrew Yang, the former Democratic presidential candidate whose core platform revolved around UBI.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York pointed out that America’s neighbor to the north has been far more generous with its checkbook. “Canada did $2,000/monthly,” she tweeted. “The US is the richest nation on earth and a 2nd stimulus check is getting blocked bc GOP want corporate bailouts & austerity in ‘exchange’ for it.”
One of her fellow Democratic representatives, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, was a bit more playful in expressing her disappointment, tweeting a meme of ducks running out into the cold snow and then “changing their minds” and running back inside. “This is like watching my colleagues support another stimulus check,” Tlaib tweeted. “Then a few weeks later.”
This is like watching my colleagues support another stimulus check.
Then a few weeks later… https://t.co/oqG3ShxDJz
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) December 5, 2020
The $908 billion compromise plan falls somewhere in between the more expansive package that Democrats passed through the House in May and the smaller “targeted” bill supported by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The plan was advanced last week by a bipartisan group of centrist senators and it has the support of the two top Democrats in Congress: Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, and Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader.
While the compromise plan would not include a second round of stimulus checks, it would include key benefits for millions of Americans. Notably, it would authorize $300 a week in additional unemployment benefits, which would be a lifeline for those who have been struggling since the $600/weekly benefit expired in July. Supporters of a compromise say passing something is better than nothing.
As both Yang and Ocasio-Cortez have pointed out on Twitter, Americans from both parties broadly support direct payments as a former of relief. And many of the nation’s top economists agree.