Experiments around the world with targeted cash welfare systems have seen terrific results.

Hmmm. Goalpost move from “UBI” to “targeted cash welfare system” noted.

In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg’s Family Rewards Program gave an average of $8,674 a year to low-income families

If you’re only doing a segment of the population, it’s not “Universal”. It’s traditional welfare.

For young people, a universal basic income would help pad their finances.

Not really a high priority societal problem, that.

Some 54% of Millennial women live paycheck-to-paycheck

They’re doing better than most, then. 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

and nearly two-thirds of all Millennials think they will never be able to accumulate the $1 million nest egg most retirees target.

What people think is not a societal problem that government needs to address.

Given the transience of work for young people, the ability to know they are getting some sort of financial assistance will encourage economic mobility and innovation.

We already have the highest rates of economic mobility and innovation in the world.

For older people, a UBI will assist those losing jobs to automation. This is largely what has spurred enthusiasm for UBI amongst Silicon Valley types.

That makes zero sense.

Arguably, introducing a UBI will give workers more bargaining power, particularly in minimum wage jobs with worse conditions.

Underline “arguably”.

If workers have a living wage to fall back on

They won’t. Any UBI that the US could afford would be less than minimum wage, or it would destroy the economy. That’s one of the drawbacks of having 320 M people.

However, Marx himself

Marx’s views are discredited.

critiqued a contemporary English experiment with basic income out of fear that the new income floor could act as a ceiling. Employers may not be incentivized to pay good wages if basic sustenance is no longer an issue.

Well, on that one he was right.

The total gross cost of a $1,000 per month basic income program in the United States would likely be around $3.8 trillion dollars annually.

Total taxes collected in 2017 by the IRS was 3.4 trillion. That’s individual, corporate, everything. Which illustrates the scope of what’s being suggested, here.

However, the 3.8 trillion number misunderstands the difference between gross and net cost.

Can’t wait to hear this one.

The net cost has been calculated to be some $539 billion per year.

Who the fuck is Karl Widerquist and why should I think him to be credible on the subject? (Counterpoint: it’s pretty easy to find economists who think UBI is crazy more expensive that 5B a year. So let’s not get bogged down in one person’s ideas, shall we?)

This figure takes into account net contributors and net beneficiaries of a UBI scheme. A common analogy is… similar to how all universal redistribution policies, such as roads and schools, are funded in a progressive tax system.

Oh. It will “trickle down”. Got it.

Spending $539 billion dollars on anything is a very substantial expense.

Damn straight. Even if that rosy trickle down scenario were to be true.

Current tax rates could be raised on estates, corporations, or individual income.

Figured we’d come to this, sooner or later.

Alternatively, entirely new taxes could be created such as a value-added-tax (VAT) which most countries have, or taxes on carbon and other forms of pollution.

People don’t seem to realize that these sorts of federal taxes would take a constitutional amendment to enact. There needed to be an amendment for th income tax, and that amendment (and all subsequent case law regarding it) is VERY SPECIFIC to taxing income only.

The government’s power to tax is actually very limited.

As a means of streamlining the American welfare system, it would ideally replace the need for many other streams of government spending on the social safety net.

Obviously, if you are displacing existing programs to pay for the UBI, that’s a conversation worth having,. Although even speaking as a conservative, the idea of ending a program which in totality pays benefits to the poor so you can give a UBI in part to the rich sounds……borderline insane. (Or, maybe not so borderline.)

Tax breaks, which represent more than all discretionary spending in the government’s budget, could likely be reeled in to make up much of the $539 billion needed.

I am not a fan of tax breaks in general, but let’s be real. From the article you quoted:

Lawmakers have written hundreds of tax breaks into the federal tax code — for instance, special low tax rates on capital gains, and a deduction for home mortgage interest — in order to promote certain activities they deem beneficial to society.

Full stop. Let’s remember here that when Trump lowered the home mortgage deduction, which benefits the rich, it was the DEMOCRATS that went batshit crazy. And low tax rates on capital gains are especially beneficial to retirees (although there are a small number of very rich people who do benefit from them as well.)

Tax breaks are expected to cost the federal government $1.22 trillion in 2015 — more than all discretionary spending in the same year.

True. But those tax breaks are there for a purpose. If you want to get rid of some or all of them, you have to remember that you’re penalizing one constituency or another.

Bottom line: most of them aren’t going anywhere. Not without a commensurate increase in the standard deduction or lowering of tax rates to offset.

Additionally, mandatory spending on unemployment and social security payments could in part be re-routed towards the new universal income system.

WTF? Social Security is underfunded as it is. You think that SS recipients are going to be interested in giving up part of their EARNED benefits to fund a UBI system?

Go ahead, make that suggestion. There will be cries of “get a rope” from the retiree faction.

A response to that can be found in Alaska, where Republicans sold a universal income type plan by asserting that citizens would be able to spend the money better than the government.

Fuck no. Alaska does NOT have a UBI system. They have a sovereign wealth fund. Anyone who uses the Alaska fund as an example of a UBI does’’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.

Alternatively, we could look to 1975, when the U.S. began forms of negative income tax

Same comment regarding “doesn’t know what the fuck they’re talking about”. A negative income tax is a form of targeted means tested welfare, not a UBI.

a recent plan by Senator Sherrod Brown and Representative Ro Khanna would raise the incomes of as many as 47 million households. This would not be a universal plan per se

Precisely. Not a universal plan.

Cory Booker, a prospective 2020 presidential candidate has proposed a bill that would give money to children annually from their birth until they are 18 based on their family income.

To be fair, Booker’s proposal is not UBI either, but it is interesting. The general idea of sticking a down payment in a retirement account and using the stock/bond market to provide cash balance to kick off adulthood with actually makes sense, from a free market standpoint, if you can cover the down payment. Democrats run from using market returns to goose retirement accounts (without reason, in my view, but whatever) on the grounds that a bad market year could screw the recipient, but that objection doesn’t matter for the Booker proposal.

Other Democratic hopefuls are joining in with UBI-lite plans of their own. Senator Bernie Sanders has Medicare-for-All and free public college tuition. Kamala Harris just proposed a cash-transfer system that would give as much as $3,000 per year to lower income households.

Oh, just wait. They’ll all be trying to out “free lunch” the next guy/gal. Gotta buy those votes, after all.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has calculated that Harris’ plan could lift 9 million people, a third of whom would be children, out of poverty.

Of course they did. Now, get Cato or Heritage to score it, and we’ll compare the two.

Though, it should be noted that polling has found the aforementioned $1,000/month plan more popular than the Affordable Care Act was when it was originally passed in 2009.

Of course. Who doesn’t like a free lunch? (Until they find out it’s not free.)

but which of these ideas wins out remains to be seen.

I’d go with “none of them”.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store