During his two-year presidential run, Andrew Yang warned the country about the inevitable automation evolution that would put thousands of Americans out of work. He called for a universal basic income (UBI) policy that would provide adults over 18 with a $1,000 monthly government check. His Freedom Dividend proposal, however, was dismissed by Republicans critics as radical and unrealistic.
Now, just weeks after Yang dropped out the Democratic primary race, his vision to send Americans direct cash payments will likely become a reality.
On Thursday, Senate Republicans unveiled a plan to mail checks to Americans to offset the economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal, which was announced days after the White House contacted Yang to help design a plan to give Americans free cash, is part of a larger $1.2 trillion stimulus package. Under the proposal, certain individuals would receive a check of up to $1,200 in a one-time payment based on their income. However, wealthier Americans and poor people would not be as fortunate.
Here’s a breakdown of the GOP proposal:
- Individuals earning up to $75,000 a year would be eligible for a $1,200 check from the federal government.
- Married couples who file their taxes jointly and make less than $150,000 would receive $2,400.
- For individuals who earn more than $75,000, the sum of their payment would fall by $5 for each $100 earned over $75,000.
- Individuals with little or no tax liability, but at least $2,500 in qualifying income, would receive a minimum of $600 in payment.
- Married couples with little or no income tax liability would receive a minimum of $1,200.
- The payment would phase out entirely for individuals making more than $99,000 annually. As a result, they would not get any money from the government.
- For married couples earning more than $150,000, the payment would also decline gradually, and it would phase out completely for couples making more than $198,000.
- Individuals and couples with children would be eligible for an additional $500 per each child.
Decisions about who qualifies for the checks would be based on 2018 tax returns, according to the proposal.
The Trump administration aims to start distributing checks within two weeks of signing the stimulus measure into law. Qualifying Americans would likely be able to receive a check by direct deposit or in the mail.
“These recommendations would blunt the impact for most Americans and limit the damage to the U.S. economy,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement. “These recommendations won’t be the end of the congressional response to the coronavirus.”