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May 2021 / Protections & Benefits

A Guaranteed Income for the 20th Century

A report from The New School Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy
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Naomi Zewde, Kyle Strickland, Kelly Capatosto, Ari Glogower, Darrick Hamilton

The Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy conducts research to shed light on the structures of inequality and develop knowledge about the pivotal roles of race, power, and social stratification. Building relationships beyond the academy, institute researchers work to identify, implement, and scale transformative ideas to promote economic inclusion, civic empowerment, and social equity. The institute also works to foster the next generation of scholars bringing diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and new thinking to society’s biggest challenges.

Over the past several years, the idea of establishing a minimum income floor via a Guaranteed Income has gained traction, with several pilots offering opportunities to see the benefits of these policies in action.

We support establishing a minimum income floor for all, and believe widespread adoption of the policy would make meaningful progress towards our broader vision of protections for all. However, we are not convinced by the idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) that would deliver the same amount of support to everyone, regardless of their income level. Instead, we believe any guaranteed income program should seek to bring all individuals up to a minimum standard, providing more support to those in greater need, and narrowing wage and opportunity gaps across the economy. 

For these reasons, we find the New School’s guaranteed income proposal particularly compelling. The authors suggest updating the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in a way that makes it function more like a true guaranteed income, removing the various income requirements and benefit differences that define the EITC today. This seems like good sense to us!

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