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Richard Nixon’s Quest for the Universal Basic Income

For how history has painted former United States president Richard M. Nixon, one would be forgiven for not associating his name with a program that potentially could have helped eradicate poverty across America. But in 1969, the Nixon White House was putting all of its weight behind an experimental basic income program in the country’s War on Poverty that would have seen an American family of four potentially receive $1,600 of cash (roughly $10,ooo in 2016 dollars) from the government yearly, plus an additional $800 in food stamps. Nixon’s Family Assistance Plan (the unfortunately acronymed, at least for modern times, F.A.P.) was meant to be a major strike against poverty without the recipients being required to work for what they were receiving or providing proof they weren’t just sitting at home. As Nixon explained in a 1973 New York Times’ story on the reasoning behind the universal basic income topic:

“Tory men and liberal policies are what have changed the world.”


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