The idea of a universal basic income (UBI) — a guaranteed income for every adult in the country paid by the government — has been around for years. But the pandemic and subsequent economic challenges faced by millions of Americans seem to have stoked the fire.
Many reports have shown that the stimulus payments of late 2020 and early 2021 had remarkably positive results. Americans stimulated the economy while still managing to pay down debts and improve their own personal finances.
In fact, stimulus checks were so beneficial for so many folks that more people than ever are calling for them to become permanent. One bill currently in the House would give average Americans $1,200 a month, no strings attached.
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$1,200 a month for everyone making less than $75,000
Sponsored by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), the idealistic stimulus bill has been dubbed the Sending Unconditional Payments to People Overcoming Resistances to Triumph (SUPPORT) Act.
If passed — a big, giant, enormous if — the bill would entitle every U.S. resident earning $75,000 or less a year to a payment of $1,200 a month. Families could also expect $600 per child.
Folks earning more than $75,000 a year (or $150,000 a year for married couples filing jointly) would receive $5 less per $100 in income over the limit. The payments would end entirely for individuals making more than $100,000 a year (or $200,000 for married couples).
While it does have some minor conditions — such as requiring recipients to have been legal residents of the U.S. for at least 18 months — there aren’t any secret gotchas. The payments wouldn’t be considered a personal loan and you wouldn’t need to repay the money.
$14,400 is above the Federal Poverty Level
Those in favor of the bill (or other forms of UBI) are confident the payments would have an extensive, positive impact on poverty levels in the U.S. And, according to the numbers, they’re probably right.
For reference, the current Federal Poverty Level (FPL), according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is:
- $12,880 for individuals
- $17,420 for a family of 2
- $21,960 for a family of 3
- $26,500 for a family of 4
In total, the support bill would give qualified individuals $14,400 every year. Since that’s nearly $2,000 more than the FPL for individuals, SUPPORT Act payments alone could propel many Americans out of poverty, more than doubling the incomes of millions of the people who could benefit from it the most.
125 million Americans live paycheck to paycheck
Of course, it’s not just those below the poverty line who could benefit from extra money in their bank accounts. More than half of American households are living paycheck to paycheck, meaning they’re barely breaking even every month.
For those folks just making do, an extra $1,200 a month could make a huge difference. Think about your own personal finances. What could you do with another $1,200 in the budget each month? Pay off high-interest credit card debt? Actually afford health insurance? Finally start saving for retirement?
Even if you’re not struggling just to get by, having a guaranteed income could make a world of difference in how you live your life. If you didn’t have to worry about paying for health insurance, would you be more likely to start your own business? Or maybe just change careers? It’s amazing what a little bit of financial security can do.
While it’s highly unlikely (read: impossible) the SUPPORT Act will pass in today’s political climate, the potential benefits of UBI are well worth discussing on both a local and national level, especially since the chances of future pandemic-related stimulus payments seem muddy at best.
View more information: https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/personal-finance/articles/some-are-calling-for-monthly-1200-stimulus-checks-would-they-help-average-americans/