Monday, January 13, 2014

Could We Afford a Universal Basic Income? (Part II of Series)

The first post in this series looked at the economic case for a universal basic income (UBI), by which I mean an unconditional grant, paid to every individual, that would be sufficient to maintain a decent minimum standard of living. In that post, I argued that replacing the many overlapping income support policies currently used in the United States with a UBI would be more effective in raising the incomes of poor and near-poor households while strengthening work incentives and improving administrative efficiency.

The evident economic downside is that a UBI would be less narrowly targeted on the poor than existing programs. Because it would not, by its nature, be means tested, it would channel billions of dollars in grants to middle- and upper-income households. Some think that would make a UBI unaffordable without ruinous tax increases, deficits, or cuts to other government programs. This post looks at some of the fiscal realities of a UBI and concludes that such a program might not be fiscally unrealistic after all. >>>Read more

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