Guaranteed Income: Chronicle of a Political Death Foretold

27 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2020 Last revised: 2 Mar 2020

See all articles by F. E. Guerra-Pujol

F. E. Guerra-Pujol

Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico; University of Central Florida

Date Written: January 13, 2020


This Article retells the story of “The Family Assistance Act of 1970." Had this historic bill been enacted into law, it would have provided every poor family with children a guaranteed minimum income. Although this measure had the support of the president and passed the House in April 1970 by a wide margin, and although there were sufficient votes to clear the Senate, it never made it to the floor of that august body. Why did the guaranteed income bill die in committee? Although the history, politics, and economics of this bill have received significant scholarly attention, this Article, which is structured as a three-act political play, will point out the inherent tensions and contradictions in the bill and thus explain why it was doomed to fail. The Article concludes with recommendations for contemporary proponents of Universal Basic Income schemes.

Keywords: Guaranteed income, negative income tax, universal basic income, Milton Friedman, Rose Friedman, Congress

JEL Classification: B31, D72, H24, K34, K39

Suggested Citation

Guerra-Pujol, F. E., Guaranteed Income: Chronicle of a Political Death Foretold (January 13, 2020). Chapman Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

F. E. Guerra-Pujol (Contact Author)

Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico ( email )

University of Central Florida ( email )

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