(p. A2) Imagine you’re president and Congress gives you a huge chunk of money to spend as you wish. Instead of cutting taxes or splashing out more on health care, infrastructure and defense, why not send a check to every adult?
That’s the essence of universal basic income, a centuries-old idea now enjoying a revival across the political spectrum.
. . .
To send every American adult $10,000 a year would cost $2.4 trillion, or 13% of gross domestic product. Junking the current safety net wouldn’t come close to paying for this: Scrapping income support for the poor, disabled and unemployed would save just $500 billion. Get rid of health care for the poor (mostly Medicaid), and the savings rise to only $900 billion. Getting rid of Medicare and Social Security would balance the costs, but that would leave the average retiree considerably worse off–politically (and ethically) a nonstarter.
For the full commentary, see:
Ip, Greg. “CAPITAL ACCOUNT; Payout Proposal Ignores Labor Needs.” The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., July 14, 2016): A2.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 13, 2016, and has the title “CAPITAL ACCOUNT; Revival of Universal Basic Income Proposal Ignores Needs of Labor Force.”)