News; News & Events

United States: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls for basic income as a response to the corona virus crisis

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Picture credit to: Fox 32

As the corona virus crisis unfolds, the political atmosphere heats up in the United States. At the Capitol, a 2 trillion dollar bill is in the making, specifically to deal with the economic downturn caused by the epidemic.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), the Democrat Representative of the Bronx constituency in New York City, already called for measures like paid leave, debt relief, waiving work requirements, guaranteeing healthcare, universal basic income (UBI) and detention relief. She has recognized that the current bill under discussion is, indeed, partly unconditional (around 500 billion dollars), although she has shown concerns that this money may not reach those more in need of it, but go to large corporations which are seeing their profits plummet at this point.

AOC had already shown simpathy for the basic income policy in the recent past, although in an ambivalent manner. In the face of a “systemic [economic] shock” the corona virus crisis is creating, however, she has again reached for the UBI, at least as an emergency economic measure. That idea, in fact, has motivated more than 500 academics, public figures and (basic income) advocates to call for such a policy, which was manifested in a public letter.

Even on the Republican side of Congress, this kind of approach is getting support. Republican Senator Mitt Romney has said that “urgent action on additional coronavirus response measures [are] aimed at providing economic relief for working Americans and families.” Others, like Congressmen Tim Ryan and Ro Khanna, plus Tulsi Gabbard, have also very recently proposed legislation that will allow the distribution of (unconditional) checks onto people’s hands, resembling the idea Andrew Yang had been proposing for most of his Presidential Campaign. The Congress Financial Services Committee, as a matter of fact, is aiming to release legislation, as part of the 2 trillion dollar bill rollout, that would put an immediate 2000 US$ in the hands of every American, with an additional 1000 US$ for every child.

Even as the crisis unfolds, critics worry that the basic income policy, even applied over this context, maybe too expensive, while remaining senseless to pay a 1000 $/month for the duration of the contention/recession to billionaires. AOC replies to both those fears shortly and concisely: that (given the situation) it should really be more, and that there is no need to means-test when it can be taxed back (from the relatively more wealthy) in the next fiscal year.

More information at:

CNN Politics “AOC’s message to young people on coronavirus” video

MSNBC, “AOC on coronavirus rescue bill” video

AOC: We need universal healthcare, basic income to fight coronavirus“, Jerusalem Post, March 20th 2020

Soomi Lee, “Why an emergency Universal Basic Income makes sense during the Covid-19 pandemic“, London School of Economics (US Centre),

Abby Vesoulis, “‘I’ll Be a Very Happy Man.’ Will the Coronavirus Outbreak Turn Andrew Yang’s $1,000 Promise Into Reality?“, TIME, March 17th 2020

Why more than 500 political figures and academics globally have called for universal basic income in the fight against coronavirus“, Letter published by the Independent, March 18th 2020

About Andre Coelho

André Coelho has written 365 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.

6 comments

  • Brian

    Her stupidity has no bounds.

  • Just three weeks ago, I published a book, Social Security Basic Income: A Safety Net for All Americans, that proposes (gradually) replacing the age-based entitlement with a negative income tax type basic income guarantee for all adult citizens (see link below). It also proposes immediate elimination of the payroll tax as relief to low income workers. All benefits (including existing obligations) are paid for with federal income surtaxes and elimination of most tax expenditures. Now is the time to consider policy reforms that will halt and reverse the trend in income inequality!

  • Just three weeks ago, I published a book, Social Security Basic Income: A Safety Net for All Americans, that proposes (gradually) replacing the age-based entitlement with a negative income tax type basic income guarantee for all adult citizens. It also proposes immediate elimination of the payroll tax as relief to low income workers. All benefits (including existing obligations) are paid for with federal income surtaxes and elimination of most tax expenditures. Now is the time to consider policy reforms that will halt and reverse the trend in income inequality!

  • tom

    I would believe that the majority on this list are:
    pro an adequate UBI and not a short term crisis “fix”

    given the number of folk who are loosing their private insurance or encountering high deductibles, or claim limitations, that most on this list favor a version of medicare for all (maybe with private options, also), and

    as with AOC, there is strong interest in the job creation program, the green new deal.

    All of these will have to be permanent, long term. Add this to the other demands on the government purse strings. Add all of these up and examine the options to move these forward on some increasing cost and adjusted time scale. Then look at the sources:

    a) cut defense spending or integrate parts into the above programs
    b) “tax the rich in a financialized world economy
    c) Modern Monetary Theory (Quantative Easing, QE on an untested theory of long term duration
    d) all the above

    Until there is a defined path or set of routes, the sum of these demands, as someone notes, regarding such movements as the Arab Spring or Wall Street, these can fall in the category of “folk politics”

    Covid-19 and the rush to fund has added a note of realism. There needs to be a move from theory to practice that is sustainable, duplicable and scaleable. Public banks or variations thereof maybe the closest model and that is about to undergo significant change in the emergent digital economy.

  • Superb blog! Ɗօ you hаve аny helpful hints for aspiring writers?
    Ι’m hoping tօ start my own blog ѕoon bᥙt I’m a littⅼe lost on eveгything.

    Wοuld yoս advise starting ᴡith a free platform lіke WordPress or go for a paid option?
    Τhere are so many options out theгe thɑt I’m сompletely confused ..

    Any ideas? Thаnks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.