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Spain to implement universal basic income in response to coronavirus — and the change will be permanent


Not just for the crisis

Spain's Economy Minister Nadia Calvino announced the launch of universal basic income. (Paolo Blocco/WireImage)

Spain is responding to the coronavirus crisis with a plan to launch a universal basic income program in the near future, Forbes reported, but the program isn't just for the pandemic — it will become permanent, Spain's Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said.

What's the story? Spain, like other nations whose economies have been devastated by the coronavirus-related shutdowns, passed a stimulus package to ease the disruption. Measures include pausing all mortgage payments and giving money to businesses that are struggling.

The next step is a universal basic income that Calvino said is a direct response to the coronavirus emergency, but which will also remain after COVID-19 has passed. From Bloomberg:

Social Security Minister Jose Luis Escriva is coordinating the project and plans to put some sort of basic income "in place as soon as possible," with the main focus on assisting families, Calvino, who also serves as deputy prime minister, said in an interview Sunday night with Spanish broadcaster La Sexta.

But the government's broader ambition is that basic income becomes an instrument "that stays forever, that becomes a structural instrument, a permanent instrument," she said.

Desperate times, desperate measures: Spain is among the countries hardest hit by COVID-19, along with China, Italy, and the United States. More than 13,000 people in Spain have reportedly died from the coronavirus.

Spain using an emergency to implement a drastic, permanent policy change like universal basic income is an example of what some in the U.S. fear politicians will attempt to do.

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week that he views the coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to move toward a new "progressive era." South Carolina Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn said last month that the crisis presented a chance for Democrats to "restructure things to fit our vision."

The economic problems in the U.S. have led Congress to pass a stimulus bill that includes direct cash payments to Americans based on their reported income. There are no plans at this time for future aid payments, although that is subject to change depending on the length of time non-essential businesses are closed.

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