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A series on how to implement guaranteed income in the U.S.
2020-2021

JFI Position on Guaranteed Income, August 2021


Summary

August 26, 2021.

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.

Full paper here. Press release here.

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.

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