New Polling Shows Bipartisan Support for Monthly Universal Basic Income, Federal Assistance to Workers Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority of voters from both political parties support federal income assistance in the form of monthly cash payments and government-backed paycheck guarantees, according to new polling released on Tuesday. Those two proposals, covered in separate reports published in The Appeal in collaboration with the The Justice Collaborative Institute and Data For Progress, go significantly beyond measures included in the March coronavirus relief package.

One report on universal basic income, or UBI, contains polling showing strong bipartisan support for the government providing recurring monthly cash payments to Americans, as opposed to the one-time direct payments laid out in the $2 trillion congressional stimulus package passed last month. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) introduced legislation on Tuesday that includes a monthly UBI proposal.

According to polling conducted by Data for Progress in partnership with The Justice Collaborative Institute:

  • 66% of voters, including 52% of Republicans, prefer recurring payments of $2,000 until a year after the President declares an end to the federal state of emergency.
  • 68% of voters, including 65% of Republicans, prefer receiving a pre-loaded debit card to a deduction on next year’s income tax.
  • 42% of voters prefer imposing a wealth tax in order to fund universal basic income, while 35% said they prefer adding to the deficit, and 24% prefer using new currency.

Research has found that universal basic income can catalyze dramatic positive changes in societies, providing benefits in terms of health, educational attainment, and life expectancy, while decreasing criminal life outcomes, reducing drug and alcohol use, and particularly helping disadvantaged youths.

“A universal basic income can help economic recovery by providing income support when people are out of work and when they start working again.” said report co-author Ioana Marinescu, Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. “It will also help stimulate demand for local businesses as they reopen.”

A separate report on government-backed assistance to employers and workers who’ve suffered job losses due to COVID-19 contained polling that showed strong bipartisan support for a number of “paycheck guarantee” proposals. With small business floundering and jobless claims reaching nearly 17 million in just the last three weeks, robust government action is necessary to keep workers afloat and ensure they have a job to return to when the economy reopens, the report says.

According to a survey conducted by Data for Progress in partnership with The Justice Collaborative Institute:

  • 81% of voters support direct payments from the government to businesses in order to cover payroll expenses if they keep workers employed for the extent of the state of emergency.
  • 89% of voters support tax credits for businesses to encourage them to rehire workers who lost their jobs or experienced a reduction in work hours due to the pandemic.
  • 76% of voters support direct payments from the government to businesses in order to cover business expenses such as rent payments for companies that lost revenue due to the pandemic.

The full report on universal basic income is available here. The full report on paycheck guarantee proposals is available here.

The Justice Collaborative Institute is a coalition of justice reform scholars from across the nation focused on providing an academic perspective to conversations and work surrounding mass incarceration and related issues.