Republicans in Iowa are trying to block plans for a guaranteed basic income program.
State Rep. Steve Holt said the programs are "socialism on steroids."
Holt and another representative introduced a bill to ban UBI-style programs in the state.
Republican lawmakers in Iowa are pulling out all the stops to block guaranteed basic income plans they described as "socialism on steroids."
Guaranteed basic income programs typically offer no-strings-attached cash to certain groups, like the poor or new mothers. Universal basic income, its like-minded cousin, offers cash to entire populations regardless of income. Numerous counties and cities, many of them in red states, across the United States have been experimenting with guaranteed basic income plans.
But while these programs have largely been successful, not everyone is in favor of them.
A Texas state senator last week called a guaranteed income program in Harris County, which includes Houston and is offering $500 a month to the area's poorest residents, unconstitutional.
And at a hearing on Thursday, Iowa state Reps. Steve Holt and Skyler Wheeler spoke in favor of advancing a bill that would ban guaranteed basic income programs in the state, according to The Gazette, a Cedar Rapids-based newspaper. The bill threatens those who don't comply with prosecution by the state attorney general.
"I'm going to tell you right now: This is socialism on steroids. This is a redistribution of wealth. This is an attack on American values," Holt said in the hearing.
Wheeler added that he thinks such programs are "insane" and "create more reliance on government" by taking money "from hardworking taxpayers and giving it to those that are not."
Holt called basic income programs an "attack on the work ethic in this country." Both state reps said that the initiatives incentivize people not to seek jobs.
Other cities that have implemented such programs, however, have seen success. The Baltimore Young Families Success Fund gives young mothers up to $1,000 monthly, no strings attached. The deal is so good some applicants told Business Insider they thought it was a scam. The campaign's director of policy, Tonaeya Moore, told Insider that surveys show that participants largely spent their money on the same general items.
"It's always bills, car [payments], groceries, childcare," Moore told BI.
"Most of our families, a lot of them, even after the thousand dollars, they still need a lot of help, so no one's taking advantage," Moore added.
Another guaranteed basic income program recently launched in Flint, Michigan, offers mothers a lump sum payment of $1,500 during pregnancy and another $500 each month during their baby's first year, BI previously reported. The program, called RxKids, was inspired by the now-defunct Child Tax Credit, one of President Joe Biden's pandemic-era relief efforts.
Nalo Johnson, president and CEO of the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, spoke at the hearing on Wednesday, according to The Gazette. The foundation's project, "UpLift," provides 110 low-income central Iowans with $500 a month for two years, according to the outlet.
The UpLift project receives funding from public, private, charity, and nonprofit sources, The Gazette reported.
Johnson said the foundation is primarily interested in "the ways in which the basic income is shown not only to provide economic stability within a family but really support the economic vitality of a community because of the ways in which those dollars are circulated locally within the local businesses."
A universal basic income project in Canada in the 1970s called MINCOME helped improve graduation rates and healthcare by allowing students and new mothers to work less, ultimately improving lives in the whole community where it was offered.
While critics of guaranteed basic income often cite its cost as a barrier, Evelyn Forget, a Canadian economist who studied the MINCOME project, told BI that the communal cost of poverty outweighs the cost of a basic income.
"We pay for it through the school system, for classes for kids who fall behind because their parents can't pay the rent and they move too often," Forget said. "We pay for it through the health. We pay for it through criminal justice systems."
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