News; News & Events

International: Obama is portrayed in the media like a basic income supporter

Barack Obama. Credit to: CNBC.


Despite having failed to actually endorse basic income, for the second time, international media is portraying Barack Obama as a supporter. For instance, the Trumpet, a news depot that “seeks to show how current events are fulfilling the biblically prophesied description”, depicts Obama as a hard-core socialist, sending him an indirect message saying that “the Bible warns against a get-something-for-nothing mentality”. However, and apparently, being knowledgeable in clerical issues and having served in the Church of England ministry, hasn’t stopped Dr. Malcolm Torry from supporting and studying in detail the basic income policy.


Another online news service, the Independent Sentinel, which announces it “report[s] the news the media won’t”, blatantly calls Obama a communist. A communist who has “saddled us [in the United States] with the far-left system of healthcare which has been an expensive and failed experiment”. Considering the nature of the privatized-insurance based healthcare system in the US, Sweden’s healthcare could be called an extreme-far-left successful case study. This news article joints Barack Obama and former Greek minister Yanis Varoufakis as unrepented communists who promote basic income, a policy under which “people become enslaved to the State”.


The Mic reports the same event on a soberer tint. However, its post starts out by pointing that Obama “come[s] out in support of an economic policy that is far to the left of anything being proposed by most sitting U.S. politicians”. The writer and basic income Scott Santens once claimed that basic income was neither left or right (it’s forward), but apparently polarized politics is still very much popular in the US.


Quartz Africa reduces the focus on Obama’s reference to basic income itself, to highlight his speech on inequality, and his views on what should be the solution to humanity’s current crisis: an inclusive capitalism, “which protects collective bargaining, breaks up monopolies, enforces laws that root out corruption”. Unresolved remains Obama’s belief that “a job […] provides dignity and structure and a sense of place and a sense of purpose”, while saying in the same breath that “we’re gonna have to consider new ways of thinking about these problems, like universal income.”


In a CNCB article, on the other hand, a more cautious approach is taken concerning Obama, who is, arguably, a more fervent supporter of a job guarantee than a basic income. He his cited to have said that “the job of giving everybody work that is meaningful [will get] tougher, and we’re going to have to be more imaginative, […] to protect the economic security and the dignity that comes with a job”. The article also mentions Obama’s former vice-president Joe Biden, who basically supported that view integrally.


Whether former US President Barack Obama is a basic income supporter or not, it is rising to become one of the most debated issues in contemporary politics. Robert Reich, former President Clinton’s secretary of labor and ex-member of Obama’s transition advisory board, already looks at some sort of basic income policy as “inevitable”, along with tech moguls like Elon Musk. And that’s not only over the elite’s dome, it’s also among the average American citizen, whose support for the policy has been steadily increasing over the past few years, reaching almost half of the population according to recent polls.



More information at:

Karl Widerquist, “Obama speaks favorably about UBI but stops short of endorsing it (for the second time)”. Basic Income News, July 18th 2018

Andrew Miller, “Barack Obama Voices Support for a Universal Basic Income”, the Trumpet, July 19th 2018

S. Noble, “Barack Obama Promoted Universal Basic Income in South Africa”, the Independent Sentinel, July 18th 2018

A.P. Joyce, “Barack Obama signals support for a universal income”, Mic, July 17th 2018

Lynsey Chutel, “Barack Obama says the rich owe the world a huge debt”, Quartz Africa, July 17th 2018

Catherine Clifford, “Barack Obama suggests cash handouts be considered to address workforce challenges”, CNBC, July 18th 2018

André Coelho, “UNITED STATES: Joe Biden believes that jobs are the future, rather than basic income”, Basic Income News, September 23rd 2017

Catherine Clifford, “Ex-Labor Secretary: Some kind of cash handout ‘seems inevitable”, CNBC, July 13th 2018

André Coelho, “United States: American citizens support for UBI rises four times, compared to a decade ago”, Basic Income News, July 10th 2018

About Andre Coelho

André Coelho has written 344 articles.

Activist. Engineer. Musician. For the more beautiful world our hearts know it's possible.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

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