Free money plan not so universal as Andrew Yang and Bernie Sanders clash

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has one of the more progressive campaign platforms of the 2020 Democratic contenders, but there is one policy his rivals are floating that he doesn’t support: universal basic income (UBI).

UBI, refers to regular cash payments given to a populace with minimal or no requirements for receiving the money, in order to increase people’s income, according to the International Monetary Fund. It is one of the centerpieces of businessman Andrew Yang's presidential campaign as a means to combat the rise of automation in the workforce.

During an interview with The Hill.TV this week, Sanders said “people want to work” and being a productive member of society is important to Americans.

"We take a very different approach from Mr. Yang and that is I believe in a jobs guarantee," he said. "There are an enormous amount of work that has to be done all the way from child care to health care to education to rebuilding our infrastructure to combating climate change to dealing with our growing elderly population."

In response, Yang fired back at Sanders on Twitter, saying that not everyone wants to work for the government.

Yang’s “freedom dividend” would guarantee every America over the age of 18 $1,000 per month. To pay for it, he has proposed imposing a value-added tax of 10 percent, which would be levied on businesses’ production of goods or services. Yang has estimated this VAT will raise $800 billion in revenue.

While Sanders has come under fire for some of his free-service proposals, Yang is not the only 2020 candidate that is looking to give away free cash.

California Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris’ LIFT – or Livable Incomes for Families Today – the Middle Class Act, would provide families with a refundable tax credit for as much as $6,000 per year, or $500 per month, to live on. For individuals, the amount would be halved to $250 per month or $3,000 per year. The payouts would be phased out as incomes increased.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s free money proposal is a bit different – he wants to begin a government-run savings program for children. Those funds would be used to pay for things like college, a home purchase or starting a business.

Author Marianne Williamson also wants to give Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 $1,000 per month.

For his part, Sanders wants to expand the Medicare program to cover everyone in the U.S, which – according to one estimate – could cost as much as $32 trillion. His student loan cancellation and free public college plan carry an estimated price tag of $2.2 trillion.