Three weeks before midterms, California Senator Kamala Harris (D) floated new legislation which would give American families making less than $100,000 an annual tax credit of $6,000 per year, while those making under $50,000 would be eligible for up to $3,000 per year, reports the Sacramento Bee.
"Americans are working harder than ever but stagnant wages mean they can’t keep up with cost of living increases," Harris said in a Thursday statement, citing a 2017 survey from Bankrate.com which found that more than half of Americans can't afford a $500 unexpected expense - such as a medical bill, rent increase or child care.
According to Harris’ office, recipients could receive the money in either monthly payments or annually.
“The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates the (bill) would impact one in every two workers and two out of every three children in America,” according to Harris’ office, in addition to approximately 1 million Pell Grant-eligible college students. -SacBee
Harris' plan has the support of several prominent liberals, such as California NAACP president Alice Huffman, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs and the mayors of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Long Beach.
Tubbs made national headlines in January over a "basic income" scheme that will take effect next year, offering $500 per month to residents who meet income requirements.
Many are skeptical of Harris' basic income proposal, such as Jack Pitney, professor of government at Clairemont McKenna College, who said "There’s no real chance that this will become law in the next couple of years."
In part, that’s because it’s unlikely that Democrats will win enough seats to gain a majority in the U.S. Senate in 2018; political polling website FiveThirtyEight gives Democrats just a 21 percent chance of turning the Senate blue.
“Even if it did, (the bill) would need 60 votes to overcome a certain filibuster,” Pitney said.
So why introduce a bill that’s unlikely to become law?
“It appeals to the Democratic base, it appeals to low-income voters, it’s a very clever tactic to turn the tax issue against the Republicans,” Pitney said. “Republicans were hoping their tax cut would be a political bonanza but it backfired on them. People don’t like it and this is an effort to ride that sentiment.” -SacBee
Pitney suggests that the introduction of the bill, despite its low probability of passing, is yet another sign that Harris may be a serious contender for a 2020 presidential bid.
If it did become law, Pitney says "as a policy, it would be problematic," as it would mean reversing tax cuts that have been in place for years.
"But as politics right now, it’s probably going to give her quite a boost," concluded Pitney.