Bridging The Gap In America’s COVID19 Relief Policies With A Single Universal Program For All Americans
The Social Services, Technology, and Administrative Restructuring Initiative, better known as “SSTAR Initiative”, will effectively replace and improve upon the efforts extended by the CARES Act, which is gradually discontinuing funding along with many other COVID-19 relief programs that failed to satisfy the basic economic needs of the American people and their businesses through a pandemic crisis.
- The SSTAR initiative incorporates five sectors--employment, food, housing, education, and transportation--into a single entitlement program that is accessible to all Americans.
- The SSTAR Initiative would competitively direct funds toward small businesses to enhance growth across all industries and sectors while selectively supporting businesses that promote population health.
- Benefit allotments would be calculated with a formula that reflects a wide range of unique household circumstances. The program is means-tested to be sensitive to an individual’s age, family structure, and overall financial health; Debt-to-income ratios are calculated by prespecified categories of debt which include student loans and certain medical bills, and the goal is a formula that provides adequate support for households at all income levels that are facing poor financial health.
- Funds would be Transferred directly from the federal government and into the individual’s StarCard account, which is managed by a partnering bank, and could be loaded by government funds of any type.
- Families are taught how to better manage their spending for household needs and goals by having access to spending support tools that track and summarize a family’s spending habits to give a greater understanding of how they are using the funds, allowing the user to set spending priorities to ensure rent and other bills are covered, therefore improving credit scores over time, saving options would be made available through interest-bearing accounts offered by participating banks, and simple investment options would be offered by regulated third parties.
- The first businesses that SSTAR would promote would be those that have a positive impact on their community and economy; Businesses that hire locally are seen as highly desirable for the social capital they provide, women and minority-owned businesses contribute to greater economic justice while growing the overall economic base for workers, and businesses supporting charitable activities that enhance their communities are eligible for enhanced funding opportunities through the SSTAR Initiative.
HOW IT WORKS
SSTAR funds are accessed through an individual's StarCard, which is resemblant of a debit card with minor modifications; The card will have reduced administrative costs associated with delivering funds, which is made possible by using participating banks that manage StarCard accounts, and the cards can be loaded with government funds of any type. In order to minimize the risk of deterring from the health focus of the program, the StarCard holder will have the inability to convert funds directly into cash that could be used to make illegal or illegitimate purchases, which additionally ensures that households can receive optimal financial planning assistance, and the card could not be used at liquor stores or recreational marijuana shops. The goal is to provide secure funding to support the American people through the nation’s unprecedented economic hardships, and better prepare them for the future.
It has been stated that this initiative is accessible to all Americans, and so what are the parameters? As stated by SSTAR, every person over 18 is eligible for aided relief. This is inclusive of people from all social classes, and all financial stability levels. To elaborate, an individual’s age, family structure, and overall financial health are analyzed to create a debt-to-income ratio that is then converted into a formula that provides adequate support for the family, or individual’s, unique situation.
The initiative also puts a positive scope on small businesses and aims to re-establish the foundations of communities across the country. Small businesses that join the SSTAR initiative would receive an endorsement as SSTAR Community Supportive Organizations (CSOs) and could offer their goods or services at discounted rates where the federal government covers the differential. The magnitude of the SSTAR CSO discount would reflect the extent to which a business contributes to the overall wellbeing of the community. Businesses that apply and qualify to become SSTAR CSOs gain a significant advantage in being able to offer their wares at a lower price relative to their competitors without having to sacrifice profit.
As the CARES Act discontinues funding, after serving only a fraction of its intended purpose in the midst of the pandemic, and leaving millions of Americans without a means of supporting themselves or their families, a new system must be immediately implemented. Many countries have experimented with UBI programs that fail to maintain a balanced equation- increasing the cash within a household yet failing to adequately cultivate healthy business structures that can employ more of the population.
The SSTAR Initiative has the absolute potential to improve America’s safety-net by supplying a single financial support program that is accessible to all Americans, provide secure individualized fund distribution, and support businesses that play a crucial role in bringing our economy and the people that make up this country’s communities back to a healthy equilibrium.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR AMERICA’S FUTURE
COVID-19 has put millions of Americans out of work, and with every passing day families are still unemployed and coming closer to the end of their relief programs. The SSTAR Initiative would cover multiple facets, including those that have been pushed aside or left unaddressed prior to the pandemic. By fulfilling the needs of all American people and better preparing them for what’s to come, the program will drive the country towards a greater economic future for both the individual and the businesses that they run.