2020 Candidate Conversation: Andrew Yang

May 9, 2019

 

  

Andrew Yang is running for President on $1,000 a month: his central campaign policy is the concept of Universal Basic Income, which he is calling a “Freedom Dividend,” a monthly stipend from the federal government for each American, ages 18 to 64.

This new entitlement, according to Yang, is essential to offset the disruption of automation to thousands of American jobs. He’s seeking the Democratic nomination with no prior experience in holding or running for public office. We ask Yang about the changing nature of work in America, how he plans to pay for Universal Basic Income, Medicare for all, and other policy points.

 Watch the interview:

Meet the Candidate: Andrew Yang

Age: 44

Background:  Yang is a entrepreneur from New York who’s built a career in startups. The two most notable include a test prep company eventually bought by Kaplan and Venture for America. He used the profit from Kaplan to found Venture For America, a nonprofit that trains and supports recent grads in launching startup companies in cities across America. The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Yang grew up in upstate New York and went to Philips Exeter Academy, Brown University and later, Columbia Law school. The tech entrepreneur has taken a riff on President Trump's campaign slogan by selling hats that read "MATH," which stands for "Make America Think Harder." He’s described himself as “The opposite of Donald Trump: an Asian man who likes math.”

Platforms/positions: Much of Yang’s platform focuses on the disruption of automation, even going as far as saying President Trump was elected because of the massive loss in manufacturing jobs in key midwestern swing states. Speaking to an audience in Silicon Valley, Yang said “It is not immigrants that are causing economic dislocation around the United States, it is technology.” He plans to pay for the Freedom Dividend through a "value-added tax" on big companies like Amazon and Google that often get away paying very little in income taxes to the federal government. His top policy concerns Americans’ well-being under capitalism; he supports Medicare for all, paid family medical leave and universal early childhood education. Yang throws in a number of curveballs, like helping MMA fighters to unionize and revitalizing America’s malls.

Of Interest: Yang has been giving a family in New Hampshire $1000 per month to demonstrate how Universal Basic Income would work. The money has been coming from Yang’s personal account, not his campaign, which he maintains is not a campaign finance violation. Yet he, neglected to disclose this expense on recent campaign finance reports.  

 

If elected, Yang promises to be the first president to use a PowerPoint during the State of the Union.