September 02, 2020

Watson Coleman Urges House Support for Guaranteed Income Pilot Program

New Bill Explores Opportunity to Ensure Fewer Families Face Economic Fallout in Crisis

Today, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), announced the introduction of the Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act of 2020, legislation that would establish a nationwide pilot program to test the outcomes of a federally funded income support program that keeps more American families from experiencing permanent financial fallout and lasting poverty from a single unexpected crisis.

“Many policy makers have been looking at this pandemic as a once-in-a-lifetime crisis, and while that may be true for businesses or markets, for millions of Americans, this is just one more emergency threatening to wipe out what little savings they have, to finally push them to homelessness, to reinforce the fact that in the wealthiest nation in the world, too many families are just a single mishap away from financial devastation,” said Watson Coleman. “What we learned when Congress made the decision to send economic impact payments through the CARES Act was that our government can prevent people from falling into poverty, it can build a floor beneath which we say no one in this country should live. This bill is all about looking at ways to make that floor permanent, giving more families a sense of economic security.”

The pilot program created by the bill would assess the outcomes of a guaranteed income program over the course of a three-year study with 12,000 participants, including a control group of 6,000. Participants would receive monthly cash payments in amounts equal to fair market rent for a 2-bedroom home in their zip code, or a similar amount to be determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The bill would also require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to implement the program alongside a non-profit academic or research institution with experience in mixed-method experimental design.

“A guaranteed income empowers people to address their most urgent needs, and provides a cushion for when unexpected expenses happen,” said Natalie Foster, Co-chair of Economic Security Project. “We know through guaranteed income pilots in Stockton, CA and Jackson, MS that regular cash payments have allowed people to better meet their basic needs and spend more time with family. This bill would give financial security to families at a time when they need it most, and allow us to further study the benefits of giving people cash directly.”

Watson Coleman partnered with Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Deb Haaland (D-NM) to present “Securing the American Dream for Working Families,” an economic policy conference exploring proposals to bring economic security to more households, close the wage and wealth gaps faced by millions, and support everyday Americans to ensure no one in the richest nation in the world is living below the poverty line. To view the panel on the future of work with Rep. Watson Coleman, held September 1, click here. To view the panel on the future of wealth with Rep. Deb. Haaland, to be held today at 3:30 click here. To view the panel on the future of housing with Rep. Omar, to be held tomorrow, September 3 at 3:30, click here.

To view a one-pager on the Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Act of 2020, click here. To see the bill text in its entirety, click here. To view a fact sheet on guaranteed income programs from the Economic Security Project, click here.