economic inequality

Should the federal government pay a universal basic income to every American adult?

Yes

Yes

Tulsi Gabbard

U.S. representative, Hawaii

“As people look to this automation revolution, they look to uncertainty. They don't know how this is going to affect their jobs and their everyday lives,” Gabbard said at the October Democratic debate. “And I agree with my friend Andrew Yang. I think universal basic income is a good idea to help provide that security so that people can have the freedom to make the kinds of choices that they want to see.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard

Marianne Williamson

Author

“Yes. $1,000 a month to all Americans age 18 and over. This will provide immediate cash relief to those who need it. It will give people a small but reliable stream of income. It will create a floor so no American needs to be hungry. It will also provide a big stimulus to the economy as people spend this money on food, clothes and other essentials,” Williamson told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Marianne Williamson
Williamson

Andrew Yang

Tech entrepreneur

The Freedom Dividend, a universal basic income of $1,000/mo, is a central pillar of [Yang's] campaign. As more jobs are lost to automation, we need to take big steps to ensure everyone can share in the gains of the 21st century,” his campaign told The Post. “Right now, 78 percent of American are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and 40 percent can’t afford an unexpected $400 bill. The Freedom Dividend will allow Americans to pick their heads up and plan for the future.”

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Andrew Yang
Yang

Open to it

Open to it

Julian Castro

Former mayor, San Antonio

“You know, I believe that we need to address communities that are being impacted by automation. I'm even willing to pilot something like UBI and to see how that would work,” Castro said at the October Democratic debate.

Oct. 15: “We should look for creative solutions to jobs lost to automation. I support piloting a Universal Basic Income program, but I don't think we should take away the entitlement programs that help keep working families afloat to do it. ”

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Julian Castro
Castro

Elizabeth Warren

U.S. senator, Massachusetts

“We absolutely must raise wages and strengthen the social safety net so that every American has basic financial security. Universal basic income and universal living wages are options to consider,” Warren told The Post. “To raise wages, I have pushed for a $15 minimum wage, stronger unions, and empowering American workers at big American corporations to elect no less than 40 percent of the company board members — giving workers a powerful voice in corporate decisions about wages and benefits.”

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Elizabeth Warren
Warren

No

No

Michael Bennet

U.S. senator, Colorado

“No. UBI is extremely expensive, providing $12,000+ per year to tens of millions who don’t need that support,” Bennet told The Post. “We need to support workers who are attempting to get employed or re-employed, or raise their skill level and wages. I also strongly support expanding the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit to help families afford to raise children, cut child poverty, and ensure that work pays a living wage.”

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Michael Bennet
Bennet

Joe Biden

Former vice president

“A job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity, your self-respect, and your place in the community. Our children and grandchildren deserve the promise we've had: the skills to get ahead, the chance to earn a paycheck, and a steady job that rewards hard work. We must build a future that puts work first,” Biden told The Post. “Our workers and communities deserve a future with dignified jobs and economic opportunity, and we have a duty to build that future as we have when faced with transformative developments in our past.” A Biden campaign spokesperson said "down the line" Biden could be open to universal basic income, but "we are not there.”

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Joe Biden
Biden

Cory Booker

U.S. senator, New Jersey

“No. I have put forward a number of proposals to provide economic security and opportunity to every American,” Booker told The Post. “My Rise Credit, for example, would massively expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to help more than 105 million working people receive a cost-of-living refund of up to $4,000. It would also expand the definition of work to include low-income caregivers and students because traditional wage earners aren’t the only Americans who are working hard to support their families.”

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Cory Booker
Booker

John Delaney

Former U.S. representative, Maryland

“No, but we do need to help low-income earners by increasing the minimum wage and doubling the Earned Income Tax Credit,” Delaney told The Post.

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John Delaney
Delaney

Amy Klobuchar

U.S. senator, Minnesota

Klobuchar does not support a universal basic income for every American adult, she told The Post.

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Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar

Bernie Sanders

U.S. senator, Vermont

Sanders “believes that all Americans are entitled to economic rights. These include the right to a decent job with good pay, affordable housing, quality health care, a clean environment, and a secure retirement,” he told The Post. “We will guarantee a good-paying job to all Americans through a federal job guarantee program to ensure everyone has a decent quality of life. Furthermore, [Sanders] strongly supports the BOOST Act, introduced by Rep. [Rashida] Tlaib to guarantee all Americans an income.” Sanders said he backed a jobs guarantee over universal income in an interview with The Hill.

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Bernie Sanders
Sanders

Tom Steyer

Billionaire activist

Steyer does not support a universal basic income, he told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Tom Steyer
Steyer

Steve Bullock (Dropped out)

Governor, Montana

Bullock is no longer running for president. “I don’t believe mailing a check to every American, regardless of income or employment status, is a serious solution to the challenges working families face,” Bullock told The Post. “I’m running to ensure every American has a fair shot at a better life.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Steve Bullock
Bullock

Joe Sestak (Dropped out)

Former U.S. representative, Pennsylvania

Sestak is no longer running for president. Sestak does not think the federal government should pay a universal basic income to every American adult.

Candidate positions highlighted
Joe Sestak
Sestak

Unclear/No response

Unclear/No response

Pete Buttigieg

Mayor, South Bend, Ind.

“I support $2 trillion of public investments to raise incomes through an Earned Income Tax Cut expansion — which will increase incomes by an average of $1,000 per year 35 million American families — workforce training, and lifelong learning programs and to lower costs for health care, prescription drugs, college, child care, and housing,” Buttigieg told The Post. “I also support empowering workers through increased bargaining power, as I describe in my labor plan, “A New Rising Tide.”" Buttigieg said at a CNN town hall event in March that he's “not yet sure that we know that [UBI] is the right way to go. But I do think it's the sort of bold policy we should contemplate.” His campaign did not clarify his stance by publication.

Candidate positions highlighted
Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg

Kamala D. Harris (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, California

Harris is no longer running for president. Harris's “first priority as president will be to give working and middle class families an overdue income boost. Under her plan, she’ll reverse President Trump’s trillion-dollar tax cut for big corporations and the top 1% and use that money to give a tax credit of up to $6,000 to working families each year,” her campaign website said. Harris did not provide an answer to this question by publication.

Candidate positions highlighted
Kamala Harris
Harris

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Background Some candidates have embraced a “universal basic income,” the idea that every American should get a check from the federal government regardless of work status, in part to offset job losses from automation. The proposal has been the foundation the campaign of tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who proposes $1,000 per month for every American adult with no strings attached.

How candidate positions were compiled

The Washington Post sent a detailed questionnaire to every Democratic presidential campaign asking whether it supports various changes to U.S. economic policy. Candidates with similar stances were organized into groups using a combination of those answers, legislative records, action taken in an executive role, and other public comments, such as policy discussion on campaign websites, social media posts, interviews, town hall meetings and other news reports and surveys. See something we missed? Let us know.

We expect candidates to develop more detailed policy positions throughout the campaign, and this page will update as we learn more about their plans. We also will note if candidates change their position on an issue.

At initial publication, this page included major candidates who had announced a run for president before November and excluded any who had left the race. Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick announced a run just before publication. The Post is working to obtain his answers to these questions.

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