In the Media

NPR: After a boom in cash aid to tackle poverty, some states are now banning it

05. 03. 2024

"People are going to stand up and fight back."

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In addition to Iowa, three other states — Arkansas, Idaho and South Dakota — have banned no-strings cash aid. Lawmakers in Wisconsin and Arizona did too, but Democratic governors vetoed those bills.

Some states that banned basic income don’t actually have such programs.

All of this is part of a coordinated push, says Harish Patel, a vice president with the Economic Security Project, which advocates for guaranteed income. He says the backlash is spearheaded by the lobbying arm of a conservative think tank, the Foundation for Government Accountability.

“They helicopter in, hire lobbyists in a bunch of states, and then they provide these copycat bills to undo this very popular program,” Patel says.

The FGA did not make someone available for an interview, but — among other issues – it promotes work requirements for federal safety net programs and opposes expanding Medicaid. During last year’s congressional debt-ceiling negotiations, its CEO suggested that new work requirements would ease worker shortages and decrease federal spending.

The FGA is also among the many conservative groups that have contributed to Project 2025, which aims to set the agenda for a second Trump presidential term.

Over the past year, a total of 10 states have introduced bills to ban basic income. “We think that in the next year they’re probably going to go to 25 to 30 states, because they tested it out,” Patel says. “People are going to stand up and fight back.”

Patel says his group’s not-yet-published polling finds majority support for basic income among not just Democrats, but also independents and younger Republicans. Democratic pollster Celinda Lake has found broad support for the idea of a federal guaranteed income program, something many advocates say is their ultimate goal.