The idea of quickly sending every American adult a $1,000 check in order to stimulate the rapidly faltering American economy began to gain some traction on Monday in the halls of power in Washington D.C. with Republican Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) coming out in favor of it even as the stock market sustained its largest single-day percentage drop ever on top of what had already been a bad week.
A thousand-dollar-a-month “Freedom Dividend” had been the centerpiece talking point of Andrew Yang’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for president in recent months before he dropped out of the race. What just a few weeks ago seemed like a quixotic idea may actually happen far faster than anyone ever anticipated, albeit for only one or perhaps two months, depending on how long Americans find themselves stranded at home with severely reduced job activity until the threat of the coronavirus is deemed past.
Despite the seeming similarity to Yang’s proposal, there is a big difference between a one-of stimulus check for $1,000 and the long-debated theories surrounding a “Universal Basic Income” which calls for such a program to continue month-after-month for every adult citizen in perpetuity. There are; however, a couple of precedents: In 2001 and again in 2009 the government mailed out checks to some taxpayers in order to try and directly counter the effects of a recession.