A UBI is a no-strings-attached monthly check, sent out by the government to every man, woman, and child in the country. The idea is to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality, but also provide everyone a base level of unconditional material security. In terms of maximalist demands, a UBI might be bigger than a job guarantee, single-payer health care, baby bonds, or a universal child allowance. In both dollar size and sheer ambition, Sanders’ own push for a Medicare-for-all system pales in comparison. The whole thing runs utterly contrary to the image of Clinton as a cautious, hyper-self-aware technocrat.
To finance the UBI, Clinton would’ve used fees for extracting oil and gas from public lands, or for broadcasters and mobile companies using airwaves, plus taxes on carbon and financial transactions. The basis for this plan was the Alaska Permanent Fund, which already operates what is effectively a UBI for every Alaskan resident, financed by the state’s publicly-owned oil reserves. That approach, Clinton told Vox’s Ezra Klein, “was really intriguing to me because in effect it was to argue that our natural patrimony really does belong to every American.”