What are the politics of basic income? Who’s likely to support it? Liberal Democrats? Conservative Republicans? Independent candidates? “Third” parties?

What are the politics of basic income? Who’s likely to support it? Liberal Democrats? Conservative Republicans? Independent candidates? “Third” parties? 

Answer

This idea has the potential to attract people from across the political spectrum, plus Americans who normally don’t vote.

Liberal Democrats can present basic income as the key to progress on racism, income inequality, global warming, and other issues or problems. Campaigns might cite Martin Luther King Jr., “[A] host of positive psychological changes inevitably will result from widespread economic security. The dignity of the individual will flourish.” And “The solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”

Conservative Republicans can focus on shrinking the size and power of the federal government. Basic income is a way to promote free markets and free enterprise, and possibly to have a flat income tax that’s also fair. When touting these ideals, conservatives often refer to economist Milton Friedman, and he supported a basic income. “We should replace the ragbag of specific welfare programs with a single comprehensive program of income supplements in cash — a negative income tax.”

Independent candidates will have a ready-made platform, a specific practical positive alternative to the status quo. Envision a three-way contest between an Independent calling for basic income, vs. a Democrat and a Republican with their usual platforms and rhetoric. Independents can gain credibility and traction by citing the fact that moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans supported guaranteed income in the 1960s.

Greens, Libertarians, and other “third” parties can adapt basic income as a vehicle for their values and goals. The Green Party might propose to fund the basic income through high carbon taxes, and their platform already includes a basic income plank, since 2004. Libertarians might call for a large basic income as way to win popular support for eliminating government programs and maximizing personal liberty.

Cities and states can enact basic incomes without waiting for the federal government, so campaigns can happen at all levels: local offices, state legislatures, governors, Congress, and president.

Basic Income Action is nonpartisan or transpartisan. Our mission is to educate and organize people to take action, and we are preparing educational materials that any political campaign or candidate can use.