Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes wants to tax anyone who makes over $250,000 to the tune of nearly $3 trillion over ten years, then use the proceeds to provide universal basic income (UBI) to every working American who makes under $50,000 a year, including those providing services such as child care and elder care.
Hughes, 34, now devotes his time to evangelizing for higher taxes on the rich, such as himself. He's proposing that the government give a guaranteed income of $500 a month to every working American earning less than $50,000 a year, at a total cost of $290 billion a year. This is a staggering number, but Hughes points out that it equals half the U.S. defense budget and would combat the inequality that he argues is destabilizing the nation. -Bloomberg
Hughes, who has a related book coming out, has made tackling income inequality his top priority by partnering with the Economic Security Project - a major recipient of his philanthropic efforts. The group is focused finding solutions to provide "unconditional cash and basic income" in the United States due to the effects of "automation, globalization, and financialization" forcing the discussion.
The plan would essentially be an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low-to-moderate income individuals and families.
The Economic Security Project is a network committed to advancing the debate on unconditional cash and basic income in the United States. In a time of immense wealth, no one should live in poverty, nor should the middle class be consigned to a future of permanent stagnation or anxiety. Automation, globalization, and financialization are changing the nature of work, and these shifts require us to rethink how to create economic opportunity for all. -Economic Security Project
While Hughes notes that the annual $290 billion annual price tag is half the U.S. defense budget, he contends that income inequality is destabilizing the nation - and that there is a "very practical concern that, given that consumer spending is the biggest driver of economic growth in the United States and that median household incomes haven't meaningfully budged in 40 years," a Universal Basic Income is vital to maintaining economic national security.
"Cash is just the simplest and most efficient thing to eradicate poverty and stabilize the middle class," Hughs told Bloomberg at the Economic Security Project's New York offices at Union Square.
There are many ways to pay for a guaranteed income. However, I do think that the resources can and should come from the people who most benefited from the structure of the economy. We had tax rates at 50 percent for several decades after [World War II]. In the same period, we had record economic growth and broad-based prosperity. I’m not making the case, in the book and in general, that we just need higher taxes. It matters what our tax dollars are going to. Cash is just the simplest and most efficient thing to eradicate poverty and stabilize the middle class. -Bloomberg
You can read the rest of Bloomberg's interview with Hughes here.