A universal basic income has been experiencing a resurgence of popularity over the last few years, especially (although not exclusively) on the Left. One of the obvious political disadvantages of the idea is that Americans tend to favor requiring individuals receiving government spending to work.
Over the last week, the extent of that political problem became clear. The Green New Deal, as has been widely noted, is a progressive wish list. It deliberately sets its ambitions high at the expense of political realism. Yet the Green New Deal’s supporters have been running away as fast as they can from the idea that it would provide “economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work.” They’ve repudiated a “frequently asked questions” document about the deal that contained that line. The text of the resolution calls for “economic security” for all, but specifies that it will include a guaranteed jobs program — not a guaranteed income for those who don’t want to work.
The idea of a UBI, though, is precisely that everyone gets it, whether or not they work or want to work. Even on the left-utopian edge of American politics, that seems to be an impossible lift.