Andrew Yang isn’t satisfied with the one-time $1,200 stimulus checks going to 80 million Americans today. He wants the federal government to continue paying out $2,000 monthly checks until the crisis is well and truly over.
The ex-presidential contender, basic income advocate and crypto community favorite thinks the pandemic is too bleak to be worrying overly about the national debt.
“When the house is on fire, you don't worry that much about the water you're using to put it out,” he said as part of a web chat with Axios. “We have the equivalent of a $21 trillion fire on our hands, and we have to do everything we can to help people get through this.”
See also: CoinDesk's "Most Influential" profile of Andrew Yang
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Rep Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced legislation Tuesday to deliver $,2000 monthly payments until employment returns to pre-COVID-19 levels. Khanna represents California's 17th Congressional District, which is located in the heart of Silicon Valley.
The payments would cost billions of dollars but, when asked if this was too expensive, Yang dismissed the idea that cost should be at the forefront of considerations right now.
“We have mass graves and people doing really heartbreaking things to try and keep themselves safe, but [it] can get even worse if you have people literally facing mass deprivation,” said Yang. “And they're not sure how they're even going to put food on the table. So this, to me, is a necessary investment in the preservation of our economy and society.”
Yang added there are dozens of legislators who are going to be pushing forward a plan like the one he’s proposing, and he’s in touch with members of Congress, Democratic Party presidential contender Joe Biden’s team and others who are going to be “pushing forward a plan that's essentially identical to what I'm championing right here.”
Asked specifically if Biden would back this plan, Yang demurred, saying Biden, the former U.S. vice president, was a very smart, practical leader who k"nows we need to do everything we can to provide for people" in a time of crisis.
The Biden campaign has not responded to CoinDesk’s request for comment by press time.
Ryan's and Khanna’s Emergency Money for the People Act pushes for more sustained direct cash payments to American adults. Every American adult age 16 and older earning less than $130,000 annually would receive at least $2,000 per month as part of the bill.
“A one-time, $1,200 check isn’t going to cut it,” said Khanna in a statement. “Americans need sustained cash infusions for the duration of this crisis in order to come out on the other side alive, healthy and ready to get back to work. Members on both sides of the aisle are finally coming together around the idea of sending money out to people. Rep. Ryan and I are urging leadership to include this bill in the fourth COVID relief package to truly support the American working class.”
The coronavirus crisis has spurred what could be considered the first federal universal basic income experiment in the U.S., but whether it's only a one-time payment remains to be seen.
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