From Idea to Reality: Getting to Guaranteed Income
A new position paper by JFI’s guaranteed income research team brings together years of policy research to define basic parameters for a guaranteed income. The paper covers the aspects that overwhelming evidence suggests may create a more robust safety net in the United States, in tandem with existing programs.
The paper presents a position on those parameters that are well supported by evidence; as new research takes place, JFI will continue to build out additional details.
Key features of JFI’s position on guaranteed income include:
- A guaranteed income is an effective program where markets work, but a poor substitute for some other safety net policies like public insurance against economic shocks and market failures, or pre-distributional programs like minimum wage.
- It would be both feasible and impactful to implement a guaranteed income of $250/month per person under 65, the equivalent of expanding the existing CTC to adults, though an ideal benefit may be considerably larger and require additional tax revenue.
- A guaranteed income should be administered through the Social Security Administration or a dedicated benefit administrator.
- A guaranteed income should be universal, not income-targeted, with income-based targeting happening on the back end through progressive taxation.
- Guaranteed income should be paired with public banking for a system of seamless digital payments and financial inclusion.
- Cash is superior to in-kind assistance for individual autonomy and effectiveness as an anti-poverty measure. This means replacing TANF, SNAP, and other in-kind supports with unconditional cash assistance in the long term to finance unconditional cash instead.
- A federal guaranteed income program should include “automatic stabilizers,” additional cash payments added during periods of economic downturn.