Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told MSNBC on Monday morning that the Paycheck Protection Program, which extends loans to small businesses to cover certain costs and to keep employees on payroll, was not sufficient and that lawmakers should begin weighing the option of a minimum guaranteed income, although she declined to explicitly endorse the policy position herself.
“Others have suggested a minimum income for — a guaranteed income for people. Is that worthy of attention now? Perhaps so,” Pelosi told MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle on Monday morning after talking about the Paycheck Protection Program. “Because there are many more people than just in small business, and hired by small business — as important as that is for the vitality of the economy — and other people who are not in the public sector, meeting our needs in so many ways, that may need some assistance as well.”
The idea of a minimum guaranteed income recently gained popularity in the political sphere, in part, through heavy promotion from former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who referred to his plan to give American adults $1,000 a month as “The Freedom Dividend.”
According to The National Bureau of Economic Research, a universal basic income plan would cost about $3 trillion a year.
Critics of Washington spending have recently found an unlikely ally in political commentator Bill Maher, who grilled Pelosi during an interview on Friday after President Trump signed a bill to add more funding to the Paycheck Protection Program.
“I know we can bail out certain sectors as we have done in the past. I don’t know how you can keep indefinitely writing checks,” Maher told Pelosi on Friday evening, reports The Hill. “We were 20 trillion in the hole to begin with, and all world governments who are already in debt are doing this. How can the whole world be writing this funny money?”
In response to Maher’s comments, Pelosi said the current situation was a “matter of life and death” and more an “investment in the lives and the livelihood of the American people.” As such, remarked Pelosi, “we expect a return on this money.”
“Well, it will recover unless people get wise to the fact that we’re just writing checks with money that doesn’t exist,” said Maher. “I mean, what is the point of bailing out banks that are just going to loan back the money that doesn’t exist to us again? It seems like it’s a house of cards that could, in the end, wind up hurting more people than the disease.”
The Congressional Budget Office, which offers nonpartisan budget analysis for the legislative branch, projected on Friday that the economic deficit for the 2020 fiscal year would reach $3.7 trillion, and that the national debt would reach 101% of the GDP during the same time frame.
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