Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang wrote in a Thursday op-ed for CNN Business that Congress must act quickly to avoid a new Great Depression, and its next move should involve direct payments to American families.

Millions are increasingly desperate. Simply reopening the economy will not do the trick, as millions of Americans are fully aware that a pandemic continues to rage and there is no going back to our pre-crisis routine. Texas, for instance, just closed its bars after trying to reopen too early, while Florida is closing some beaches for Fourth of July weekend. We must accept that we are closer to the beginning of this crisis than the end, and both economic activity and jobs will be depressed for the foreseeable future.

  • The CARES Act — which “provided well over $2 trillion in enhanced unemployment benefits, direct payments, Small Business Administration loans and money for health care providers and research” — was a massive boost but simply was not enough, he said.
  • Congress has stalled on its next move, Yang noted, and neither party or chamber knows when another round of assistance might take shape and head to the president’s desk.
  • Yang called the current situation a “disaster,” writing, “Congress's approach to our nation's economy being on fire has been to dump insufficient water on it and then walk away while the fire is still raging.”
  • The answer, he argued, is a universal basic income to keep Americans afloat through the remainder of the pandemic.

There is a bill in the House with 40 co-sponsors — the Emergency Money for the People Act — that would direct $2,000 a month to every adult making less than $130,000 per year for up to 12 months. Married couples earning less than $260,000 would receive at least $4,000 a month and qualifying families with children would receive an additional $500 per child (for up to three children).

  • Yang wrote that the measure “would help tens of millions of Americans get through this crisis while supporting millions of jobs, as families would be able to order takeout, repair their cars and buy groceries every day from hard-working small businesses.”

He concluded,

Tens of millions of Americans face despair and hopelessness. It doesn't need to be this way. Congress must listen to the American people, the people it is sworn to serve, and do the right thing. If it fails in this, we will see our way of life disintegrate before our eyes, and Democrats and Republicans alike will be left explaining to former constituents why they failed to act in the face of an obvious, historic crisis.

Read the full op-ed.