Letter to the Editor: Cash Payments Give Americans Crucial Economic Support

COVID-19 is a public-health crisis, and it has rippled into an economic crisis, too. The stock market has been volatile; businesses are closing; and millions are staying home to limit the spread of the virus. In our community, we’ve seen our tourist economy halted, including lodging facilities, restaurants and retailers. Gov. Evers ordered “Safer at Home” for 30 days. Door County and people across America are feeling unprecedented economic pain.

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle passed a $2 trillion 

stimulus package, and President Trump signed off. Money in the hands of Americans helps keep our economy running. 

By planning to give cash payments, we can ensure a healthy economy while making a gentle transition to a clean-energy future. Climate change demands that we stop emitting greenhouse gases, which are trapping excess heat in our atmosphere and upsetting our planet’s delicate balance. America needs to move from a fossil-fuel-based economy to a clean-energy economy.

Here’s how: Congress could put a price on carbon pollution, driving our economy away from fossil fuels and toward clean-energy sources, and it could rebate that money as an equal cash payment, or “dividend,” to all Americans each month.

Cash allows Americans to decide how to spend the payments: pay bills, buy groceries, save, invest in a more energy-efficient car, shop at a local business or anything else. This is especially important for low- and middle-income Americans, who might struggle with the cost increases of shifting to a clean-energy economy. When dividends go to everyone, Americans benefit dramatically. Direct cash payments are an effective tool to help meet the needs of those who are vulnerable to economic shocks from new climate policies.

Finally, cash dividends are transparent and easy to track – unlike tax offsets – which helps our elected officials stay focused on the problem at hand: right now, the pandemic; soon, climate change. When we’ve dealt with COVID-19, let’s use that same tool to combat climate change.

Alisa Landman, Member 

Door County Chapter, Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

Mark Reynolds, Executive Director

Citizens’ Climate Lobby

San Diego, California