Part II: Together, We Will Bring Recurring Cash Payments to the People
By Chelsea Wilkinson
Every passing month, the lack of financial relief provided to the people during this pandemic has created an extremely dire and heartbreaking situation to witness in this country. With the end of the year arriving, and as the pandemic rages out of control, the majority of the population has been pushed into a survival mode as they grapple to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.
Since March, Income Movement has prioritized the work of our entire organization around pressuring Congress to provide recurring cash payments to people in stimulus and recovery legislation. This work aligns with the core goals of Basic Income: it prioritizes financial security as a means to achieving social and economic justice. This is our priority because we know that this will literally save lives.
As we move into a new Congress and a new presidential administration, Income Movement is kicking off a large, high impact campaign: 100 Actions in the First 100 Days. The First 100 Days of a new presidential administration is when they set the tone and priorities for their entire 4 years. Recurring cash payments to the people should be their priority. The campaign is designed to help the Biden / Harris administration get there. We had planned to kickoff this campaign on inauguration day. However, we’ve moved this up to December because important and influential conversations around stimulus are happening right now in the halls of the capitol building. Constituent pressure for recurring cash to the people cannot wait.
The first $1200 stimulus check lifted 8.2 million people out of poverty. Let’s take a moment to let that sink in. The financial need of the people is so tenuous that a single, one-time check had that profound of an effect on our people’s financial stability. Unemployment insurance brought 7.2 million out of poverty, 1 million less people. There can be little doubt of the huge humanitarian impact a recurring direct cash program that gives a monthly stimulus check to families would have. It would mean people in our communities aren’t evicted because they can’t pay rent, that parents that aren’t skipping their meal so their child can eat, and that people don’t have to live through a pandemic without their basic needs met.
Our hearts are not alone in this vision. Leading with a philosophy of abundance, Income Movement is excited to be fighting for cash relief with many allies and partners at our side. We have spent the last several weeks coordinating with as many organizations and grassroots supporters as possible so that our message is unified, powerful, and effective as it lands in Congress.
In coordination with key organizations like Humanity Forward, Economic Security Project, Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, Humanity First Movement, and The Gerald Huff Fund for Humanity, we are providing the grassroots community the tools they need to pressure Congress effectively. This coordination is so critical because it can provide cohesive messaging for what actions to take, can reduce any duplicative efforts, and puts our volunteers, advocates, and activists first by centralizing the mission and working together. The work we’ve done to internally strategize and build bridges across our organizations has ensured in the long run that we lay a united framework for our current and future initiatives. We nurture to promote values of transparency, sharing, and communication and it allows us to cover all the bases for pressure we need to be effective. This movement brings so many strengths to the table and together we are excited to tackle Congress and ensure that recurring cash payments are part of future legislation.
“Change only happens when people work together unrelentingly to pressure their representatives. Putting money into people’s hands, no strings attached, no delay is a must in the First Hundred Days.” Gisele Huff, Founder, Fund for Humanity
What does coordination across the full ecosystem of Basic Income organizations look like?
As Economic Security Project (ESP) continues their policy and legislation work on the hill, they can help inform the language and strategy for the actions our grassroots community takes in pressuring their Congresspeople. ESP is responsible for spearheading the legislation Emergency Money for the People Act that was one of the first critical pieces of legislation advocating for recurring cash payments, presented by Representative. Ro Khanna and Tim Ryan. They have built coalitions with orgs doing work across social strata and gathered phenomenal proof-points in support of recurring cash payments, including an Open Letter of 127 Economists and an Open Letter of over 90 state and local officials. This work has helped the grassroots make its case to Congress and added weight behind constituent demands and actions. This collaboration ensures our grassroots efforts will have the messaging, the targets, and the latest and greatest data on the benefits for ongoing cash payments.
Political advocacy and lobbying is so essential to the movement for basic income and for the near-term goal of getting recurring cash payments to people during this pandemic that Humanity Forward has joined this focus by launched their National Campaign Advocacy for UBI Lobbying effort. Income Movement has been working closely with Humanity Forward to help bring the work of basic income volunteers and advocates in alignment with some of the work Humanity Forward is conducting on the hill. Their lobbying efforts have ensured that the pressure we are bringing is not left, not right, but forward. Bringing a bipartisan approach to Congressional pressure is critical to bringing about the transformative legislation we know is needed right now. Humanity Forward’s efforts have helped bring a discussion around direct cash relief from leadership across the political spectrum.
“We are in a goldilocks moment to pass cash relief and some form of ongoing payments. The idea of Universal Basic Income is no longer considered a fringe idea and has not been politically demonized. We must seize the moment.” Ericka McLeod, Organizing and Operations Director, Humanity Forward
From federal pressure to targeted local leadership, The focus on enacting recurring cash payments is not solely at the federal level. Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI) has demonstrated the critical role local leaders can play building support for cash to people as a necessary part of true economic reform. In collaboration with MGI, Income Movement is targeting a new set of 100 Mayors to support guaranteed income as part of our 100 Actions in the First 100 Days campaign. We’re working together to provide constituents the tools and strategy to advocate for ongoing cash payments to their Mayor and to ask that these local leaders help pull the necessary levers to influence Congress.
“Across the country families are struggling. And while the federal government fails to act, mayors, philanthropists, and other local leaders are working quickly to put money into people’s pockets. Now is the time for our mayors to do everything they can to support their constituents, including using the bully pulpit of their position to demand Congressional action to get #MoneyforthePeople.” Madeline Neighly,
Facilitating the strategy and coordination for major campaigns like this across the movement is a primary focus for Income Movement. For our campaigns we bring together organizations ready to show up and fight for Basic Income. We create direct communication opportunities between these organizations and the grassroots community. The passion these stakeholders bring to the movement, their energy, passion, and dedication gives us life. It guides us as we build the strategy, tools, structure and resources for effective grassroots action. We have an abundance of amazing individuals who care so deeply about seeing a world with UBI, and we aspire to make that support accessible and available. That’s what our organization is here for, and we’ve been so grateful to the progress we’ve made in building a coordinated ecosystem a real sense of allyship in the Movement for UBI.
For the 100 Actions in the First 100 Days campaign we will be leading the coordination among these organizations and guiding the effort via weekly meetings, resources, and tools to support our grassroots in what they need to have a powerful impact on our federal leadership. Income Movement is ready to push our 2021 Congress and the Biden Administration to understand that recurring cash payments to people is critical if they are serious about wanting to Build Back Better. Join us as we strive to lead this movement with a vision of abundance.
Chelsea Wilkinson is an Initiative Coordinator at Income Movement. Connect with her on Twitter @hellseathinks