You make a good case — but confuse it by mixing ‘cash transfers’ and ‘tax credits.’
Mark Coatney

You’re right that I use the terms interchangeably in this piece, but to clarify, I see tax credits as one of several kinds of cash transfers. Other kinds of cash transfers could be include tax rebates, basic income, etc. It is possible to structure a tax credit in such a way that it provides cash even to those who did not pay income tax and haven’t recently filed a return. I didn’t get into this in the piece because it had already grown too long, but I think it is essential that (a) these credits get to all American adults, regardless of whether they paid income tax in recent years, similar to Bush’s 2008 initiative, and (b) that they come as a check in the mail. Obama had a tax credit enacted in 2009 but it only appeared as lower withholding rates in paychecks, so most Americans didn’t even realize they received it.