Yang says he’ll give every adult in the US $1,000 a month, no questions asked
In front of an America that largely doesn’t know his name, New York businessman and entrepreneur Andrew Yang barely got any time to introduce himself.
Just 2 minutes and 56 seconds, to be exact.
Sans a tie, Yang took a casual approach, standing in the same spot a dynamic Julián Castro stood one night earlier. Before the night started, his communications director said he hoped the podium would have good juju, but the debate didn’t turn in Yang’s favor.
He told reporters after the debate that he could have used more air time and had a lot more to say, but that he’s confident he’ll have another opportunity at the next Democratic presidential debate in July in Detroit.
“I really would have loved more questions and more air time, but I’ve got three more bites at the apple,” he said. “The American people just found out a little more about me tonight.”
Yang is best known for founding Venture for America, an organization that works to help entrepreneurs create jobs in cities like Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Cleveland through a fellowship program.
He said if he had more time, he would have liked to better explain his trademark platform, which centers on providing universal basic income or what he calls a “Freedom Dividend.”
The idea mimics a form of social security that guarantees a certain amount of money for every citizen but without work requirements or other tests. He says it aims to shield Americans from the pain brought about by the technical revolution that is replacing human jobs via automation. He proposes a set of guaranteed payments of $1,000 per month to all citizens over 18.
The stipend, which would cost the government about $3.2 trillion per year, would be paid for by consolidating some welfare programs and implementing a value-added tax of 10 percent.
“While it seems like a lot of money, it’s actually more affordable than you’d think,” he said. “The biggest tech companies are paying zero or near zero in taxes. If you put a mechanism in place to harness that value, you can generate hundreds of billions of dollars very quickly. When the money is in our hands, we’re going to spend it in our communities. This is the trickle-up economy.”
According to his policy, current welfare and social program beneficiaries would be given a choice between their current benefits or $1,000 cash unconditionally.
“It’s time for a bailout for the people,” Yang said. “That’s the flagship proposal of the campaign.”