The COVID-19 stimulus would give checks to parents, with no strings attached. UBI for everyone is next.

Universal basic income is about to arrive in America. Congressional Democrats’ $1.9 trillion stimulus bill provides for no-strings attached checks, limited only to parents of children under 18. This UBI for parents is billed as pandemic relief, but its real purpose is to put a stake in the heart of work-based welfare reform.

Supporters blandly describe their plan as “Child Tax Credit improvements for 2021.” It would replace today’s annual child tax credit, which tops out at $2,000, with more-generous “child allowances,” payable monthly. Those allowances are federal payments of $3,600 (or $300 a month) for each child under 6 and $3,000 ($250 a month) for older children. The current credit increases with income from work; the new one would provide the same large payments to all.

Under the guise of pandemic relief, the federal government would give a nonworking single parent with two preschool-age children and one in grade school $850 a month. This would come on top of other government benefits, including $680 a month in food stamps, amounting to $18,360 in combined annual income. That’s the equivalent, without accounting for taxes, of working 28 hours a week at $12.50 an hour. On top of that, the family would receive health insurance from Medicaid, and it may also receive housing and child-care assistance. Government benefits to nonworking households that are this generous are bound to reduce employment.

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