To the Editor:
COVID-19 is a public health crisis that has spilled over into an economic crisis. People across America are struggling, and Congress has responded by providing direct cash payments to families. Doing so was a bipartisan collaboration between the Senate, the House, and the Trump administration.
As we transition back to a sense of normalcy, we will begin again to focus on another looming crisis: climate change. When we do, we should remember the benefits of cash payments. Direct cash payments can help ease our transition off fossil fuels by supporting families through the major economic changes that will need to happen.
Congress could put a price on carbon pollution, driving our economy away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy sources. Then they could put all the revenues in a pot, and distribute that money as an equal cash payment, or “dividend,” to all Americans each month. Americans can then decide how to spend their dividend: They can buy something they already need or want, or invest in money-saving ways to reduce their carbon footprint. It would enable low- and middle-income Americans to cope with cost increases, and would benefit them economically. And the use of the revenues would be transparent — we would know they are going back into the economy.
Money in the hands of Americans is helping to keep our economy running. When COVID-19 is under control, let's use the same tool to combat climate change.