This is a Universal Basic Income Calculator. Click on the programs and the taxes you would like to put towards creating a Universal Basic Income; feel free to write in your own estimates of the amounts. Notes at the bottom. This is still a beta draft version; comments and concerns are welcome.

Dollar Amount (Billion) Replace with UBI?
Dollar Amount (Billion) Replace with UBI?
Social Security, Old-Age and Survivors Disability Insurance
Replace SS through UBI (rough estimate) Medicare
Medicaid Unemployment Insurance
SNAP (Food Stamps) All Other Income Support
All Military Spending (pre-sequester) Other?
Progressive Estate Tax Financial Transaction Tax
Carbon Tax Cap marginal tax rate on itemized deducations
Raising Taxes 3% of GDP Other?
UBI: $ Partial Phase-Out UBI: $ Full Phase-Out Income: $

Definitions and notes:

0. Numbers aren't exact, and this shouldn't be used for accuracy. The purpose is to give a general ballpark range for how a UBI lines up with other programs.

1. UBI is a unverisal basic income, given to all 221 million individuals over the age of 21, at the same level. (There are 235 million over the age of 18, and both numbers come from 2010 Census.)

2. To give a sense of a more targeted UBI, there are two additional numbers. Partial Phase-Out UBI is the starting basic income. From $25,000 to $50,000, the basic income is cut to half the normal rate, where it stays. So if a Partial Phase-Out UBI is $6,000, that means up until you earn $25,000 from non-UBI sources, you get the $6,000. Through $50,000 it drops linearly in income. At $50,000+ it's only 3,000.

3. Full Phase-Out Income is like the Partial Phase-Out UBI, except that the entire income is phased out from $25,000 to $50,000, and nobody receives this income after $50,000. (Thus it is not universal.) Distributional information taken from here. (though note it is distribution over 25, when population is over 21 - can be fixed later. Income distribution is assumes to be uniform in the income range, which is certainly isn't in real life.)

4. Most of the definitions should speak for themselves. The first five rows are programs that could be cut, with 2011 numbers taken from the CBO's Table 1-2 here. The last three rows are new or alterations of taxes, taken from this recent EPI document: Many options exist for raising revenue in a smart and progressive manner by Rebecca Thiess (10-year estimates simply divided by 10). Defense spending via CBPP.

5. Not a lot of time went into getting the most accurate numbers for each program; this is more of a ballpark check to get a sense of the scale of an achievable UBI. You can type in your own numbers, replacing existing ones or adding to "Other?," if you'd like to change them around. Unemployment insurance is taken from pre-crisis levels, rather than the ~$100 billion that has been spent yearly in the Great Recession.

6. Replace SS through UBI: If a basic income is $3,000, and a person receives $15,000 from Social Security in retirement, clicking that box would replace the first $3,000 of Social Security with a basic income. (And taking everyone on Social Security making less than $3,000 and bringing them up to that level.) This is a very rough estimate, akwardly extrapolating from the numbers here. I would not stand by it, but since it would likely be a feature of a UBI I wanted to ballpark the scale of savings. If you get rid of Social Security, it doesn't matter.

Comments and concerns welcome.

Mike Konczal
May 14th, 2013
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