Political leaders have been scrambling to address the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis by providing direct cash assistance to American families. Conservatives, who’d until now dismissed the idea of a Universal Basic Income as a dramatic expansion of the welfare state, have been forced to recognize that market solutions won’t suffice as a global pandemic K.O.’s the national and world economy.
It's a simple math problem: Almost overnight, many types of work effectively became a public health hazard, putting millions out of work with no real path to new income for the foreseeable future, even as the bills keep coming.
Yet the cruel irony of a cash-assistance program is that, for the populations that are excluded, it would have the complete opposite of its intended effect: they’ll get dragged down by a cratering economy with the added anchor of suddenly reduced spending power as compared to their peers. And the text of the bill Mitch McConnell unveiled this week makes clear at least one group whose members wouldn’t be getting any checks in the mail: “any nonresident alien individual.”