FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday October 30, 2020
Lisa Savage, independent Green candidate in Maine’s ranked-choice voting US Senate race, stated today that she supports moving toward instituting a guaranteed basic income system in the United States:
“The United States is the wealthiest country in world history, yet rampant and growing inequality has brought our society seemingly to the verge of breakdown. It’s time to begin serious consideration of a guaranteed basic income to ensure economic security for all, which is why I’m calling for a Congressional commission to study, design, and implement a system of guaranteed basic income.”
“Lack of economic opportunity for working-class people has been a problem for far too long, for reasons ranging from outsourcing to automation to ‘structural unemployment’ pushed by neoliberal economists. On top of that, millions are unable to work for reasons such as disability, health problems, and the need to take care of family. Existing social safety nets are often inadequate, difficult to navigate, and make it difficult to re-enter the workforce. A guaranteed basic income would solve all these problems.”
“A guaranteed basic income could end poverty in the United States by guaranteeing everyone a minimum income above poverty so that they could afford basic human needs, including food, shelter, and medicine. One particularly intriguing approach to a guaranteed basic income is the Negative Income Tax, a program in which the government would provide monthly benefits to everyone below a certain income level. As recipients earn more income from work, this benefit gradually phases out. Unlike some current welfare programs, the negative income tax never punishes people for working more by taking away benefits equal to or greater than the increase in their earned income.
“This is an economically and fiscally feasible way to end poverty. A 2015 study found that the cost of a guaranteed basic income above poverty based on a Negative Income Tax would be roughly equal to the current combined cost of the Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, cash welfare, school meal programs, and housing subsidies. Also, the benefits would go to people who need them for basic needs, not to people already making a comfortable living, keeping the overall cost far more manageable.”
“Some important questions would need to be worked out by a Congressional commission on guaranteed basic income. For one, many critics say that the current federal poverty line fails to account for the true cost of living, and would need to be adjusted so that a guaranteed income above poverty would truly guarantee the ability to afford basic needs. Also, while a guaranteed basic income would greatly reduce the need for current levels of welfare programs, it’s important to maintain safety nets for the reduced number of people who would continue to struggle to obtain basic needs. However, it’s clear to a growing number of people that a guaranteed basic income is a practical and just way to largely eliminate poverty in the United States - an achievement that is long overdue in the wealthiest country in human history.”