Tulsi Gabbard Open to the Radical Right-Wing Version of Universal Basic Income

Universal basic income (UBI) has become a hot idea in recent years as a response to the seeming inability of advanced post-industrial capitalist economies in Europe and the Americas to create enough decent-paying full-time jobs for their working age populations. Unable to find stable 9-to-5 jobs, people (especially young people) have been forced to cobble together multiple income streams from a combination of part-time and temporary jobs, contract work, and the so-called ‘gig’ or ‘sharing economy’ (TaskRabbit, Uber) just to maintain themselves at a standard of living that is lower than that of the generation that preceded them.

UBI is a mechanism for uplifting this precariat (proletarian + precarious) and giving everyone the security of knowing that they will be able to pay for basic necessities no matter whether they are employed, semi-employed, working occasional odd jobs, or unemployed.

Unlike most other policy proposals, UBI both left-wing and right-wing proponents who support different version of UBI for different reasons.

Progressives support UBI as the logical extension of already existing social safety nets. Social-democratic Finland is running a UBI pilot program that supplements unemployment benefits.

Right-wing libertarians support UBI as the logical extension of individualism and free-market fundamentalism. They want UBI to replace social safety nets just as Republican Speaker Paul Ryan wants to replace Medicare’s single-payer health care with vouchers for individuals to spend as they please in the (corporate-dominated) marketplace.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard was asked at an April 15 town hall where she stands on UBI and guess which UBI she is open to? The radical right-wing version.

In Gabbard’s words, UBI: “provide[s] for this basic income, this check, that would be delivered to people — cash — instead of the whole variety of social programs that exist. So whether it is Section 8 housing or a welfare check or food stamps — I mean think about all of the other social programs that the government, that the federal government provides. This universal basic income would supplant those.”

Gabbard’s preference for right-wing rather than progressive UBI became even more evident when she mentioned her potential allies on the issue: “I’m very interested in this and I’ve spoken to some Republicans who are interested in this and this something that is gaining more interest…”

Writing in the liberal publication Vox, Dylan Matthews found that, “an American basic income, funded by cutting everything, would screw the elderly and help almost everyone else.”

So if you want a presidential candidate in 2020 who is open to screwing the elderly and helping almost everyone else in conjunction with the Republican Party, look no further than Tulsi Gabbard.