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Small-Dollar Demonstration Projects Can’t Hide That a National Guaranteed Income Program Would Cost Trillions

Perspectives on Opportunity

January 12, 2024

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While some have declared that short-term guaranteed income demonstrations (patterned on universal basic income schemes) are working almost universally, such cheerleading misses a major drawback: the enormous costs that would arise if such programs operated at a national level, as proponents intend. This report reviews the costs of some recent proposals to operate such national guaranteed income programs, which stretch into trillions of dollars per year and are generally layered on existing welfare and related programs. Without even considering such proposals’ other negative effects, they are impossibly expensive, requiring massive new federal debt or taxes—or both.