Say yes to guaranteed income

It’s all too common for an experience in America today to be a hair’s breadth away from homelessness, saved at the last minute by improved unemployment benefits or a covid-19 relief stimulus check. Data suggests 40 million Americans were laid off at the height of the pandemic.

These experiences will leave a mark on individuals, families and national cultural memory, urging us all to demand political action towards lasting economic stability.

I will certainly not forget my recent economic woes. Now was not the right time to survive on a career in the arts or freelance work. During the pandemic, many companies have restricted scholarships, cutting back on spending on the kind of writing, proofreading and advertising work I depend on for my income. I’ve been fortunate enough to pay the rent, but utility payments during the winter months can cost as much as the rent, and the bills add up.

In New Mexico, however, the governor’s moratorium on evictions and utility cuts saved me. I doubt I would have been able to pay my heating bills from October 2020 to February 2021 and survive the winter without these moratoriums.

As of January 2021, I had well over $ 2,000 in debt. But I got a stimulus check for $ 1,400, which helped me pay the gas, electricity and water bills. The relevant word here is helped. I always refund the full amount. But at least I don’t expect to be trained. For that, I can thank President Joe Biden.

I agree that the policies adopted under the American Rescue Act saved millions of lives from immediate disaster. But I still don’t believe we are fulfilling the mandate of a nation “where there is nothing we cannot do” with these short-term solutions.

We need to respond in a way that recognizes that the pandemic has not created so much disaster as it has revealed that we are a nation living on the brink of massive scarcity in which the majority of Americans are prone to disease, unemployment. or unforeseen expenses on a daily basis.

We cannot count on solutions that will help for today alone, leaving people hanging on a thin thread until the next disaster.

An example of myopia would be to let the expanded working income tax credit and expanded child tax credit provisions expire after one year.

These payments will potentially lift millions of people out of poverty and protect the middle class. The funds will be distributed on a monthly rather than annual basis, so that families can provide for the immediate economic needs of the household and even save for their future.

But under the American Rescue Act, these provisions are only funded until 2021 and exclude more than a million immigrants without a Social Security number.

Making constant cash support for low-income families permanent and more inclusive will stabilize volatile incomes, facilitate financial planning, lift disenfranchised communities, and improve the quality of life and opportunities for millions of people.

I thank President Biden and Congress for helping me as a single adult head of my household through the Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit. However, Congress needs to understand that this is not the first time that I – nor millions of American workers – have faced unexpected near-financial ruin. I am one-third of Americans who say an unforeseen expense of $ 400 or more would put them in dire financial straits.

All families deserve financial stability that can help them prosper over the long term. A permanent safety net in the form of guaranteed income could get us there. Thanks to widespread financial malaise and the understanding that too many of us are vulnerable while wealthy CEOs get richer, this idea is only becoming more popular politically.

Now is the time to claim an expanded permanent child tax credit and guaranteed income. As Biden says, “There is nothing we cannot do as a nation if we do it together.”

Darryl Lorenzo Wellington Jr. is Communications Officer for Community Change, based in Washington. He wrote this for

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