- - Friday, February 12, 2021

When it comes to the $1.9 trillion Joe Biden-Bernie Sanders spending bill, Republicans must expose the Democrats’ sleight of hand. 

Let’s be clear. It’s not a stimulus bill but rather a vehicle to permanently alter fiscal and welfare policy. What they’re also calling COVID-19 relief is really intended to establish the foundations of universal basic income (UBI), the key goal of the Democratic Party’s socialist left wing. No one in Washington will call it this, of course, but UBI-lite is close to becoming a reality.

Democrats have successfully used the year-long pandemic as an excuse to fundamentally change election laws, goad Republicans into historically massive spending and grab more power from states. 

Now, their plan to permanently establish UBI uses three legislative strategies. First, direct federal cash transfers in the form of $1,400, $2,000 or — as Sen. Sanders has proposed – $4,000 checks. Second, an expansion and extension of unemployment benefits to the point that it will become politically untenable to claw them back.  

Third, new $3,000 and $3,600 per-child tax credits proposed by Democrats that will fundamentally transform the individual’s relationship to the government. These tax credits would, in unprecedented fashion, be provided in monthly installments to anyone with minor children, swelling the number of Americans regularly receiving taxpayer money by tens of millions. 

By mid-2020, studies show as many as 68% of workers were paid more through unemployment benefits than they were earning at their jobs, with one in five earning double their previous wages. The likely result of UBI will be to reduce income by disincentivizing work among millions of Americans who would calculate, correctly, that their non-earned pay outstripped what they could fetch with a job, excluding a host of existing federal and state welfare programs. 

Like President Biden’s so-called “equity agenda,” Mr. Sanders’ UBI-lite will drive further division and resentment in the country. The impact of even limited basic income on immigration would also be staggering, much to the delight of Democrats. Swiss voters rejected UBI on that basis in 2016. If the government’s handling of unemployment and welfare is any indicator, the fraud would be equally horrendous.  

UBI isn’t some campaign gimmick invented by the Yang Gang in 2020. A number of countries have tried it in some form, including such economic powerhouses as Iran, Finland, Mexico and Uganda. Elsewhere, leftist nonprofits are funding experiments with private donor funds to test the impact of direct-payment programs. 

Here in Stockton, California, the Soros-affiliated Economic Security Project, co-chaired by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and leftist activists Natalie Foster and Dorian Warren, is sending select residents $500 per month. It’s no coincidence that Big Tech is also behind the UBI movement. Paying people to sit at home in front of a screen all day sells advertising. 

Fifty years ago, the Great Society programs initially realized what was perceived as significant reductions in the poverty rate, only to watch as the welfare state exploded and lower-income Americans stagnated. We shouldn’t now assume giving people money or enhanced unemployment ad infinitum will somehow be a catalyst for wealth creation. 

A check can’t alleviate poverty. It encourages more dependency. Wealth is created by fundamentally changing an individual or a family’s long-term economic circumstances through drive, hard work and living a life of purpose.  

Republicans have to be clear and unambiguous in their opposition to adding more Americans to the government dole. They should counter giveaways with a slate of new traditional tax credits and tax cuts that allow individuals, businesses and families to keep more of their hard-earned money and help them create their own wealth.

Failure to stand firm against any semblance of UBI will, as Teddy Roosevelt cautioned, destroy the republic seeing “sturdy citizens who lived by their own labor and who voted without reward according to their own convictions are changed into idle creatures … fed by the state and who directly or indirectly sold their vote to the highest bidder.”

• Tom Basile, host of Newsmax Television’s “America Right Now,” is an author and adjunct professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences where he teaches earned media strategy.

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