Venture for America founder and Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang declared Sunday that his universal basic income plan dubbed the “Freedom Dividend” will boost the economy and create two million new jobs.
Speaking during a CNN town hall Sunday, Mr. Yang said his solution to the loss of American jobs due to increasing automation and artificial intelligence technology is to give everyone 18 and older a $1,000 check every month, regardless of their current income or employment.
“We have to face why Donald Trump won the election of 2016,” the businessman stated. “He won by the numbers because we’d automated away four million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa — all of the swing states he needed to win and did win.
“I have many friends who work in technology, and they know that what we did to the manufacturing jobs we are now going to do to the retail jobs, the call center jobs, the fast food jobs and, most disastrously, the trucking jobs in the days to come,” he said. “So we need to think much bigger about how we’re going to help Americans transition through this time.”
Mr. Yang then announced his “flagship” proposal of the Freedom Dividend, which he estimated will “permanently grow the economy” by roughly $2.5 trillion by 2025, according to his website.
“A freedom dividend of $1,000 per month for every American adult starting at age 18,” Mr. Yang said during his town hall. “This would create two million new jobs in our economy. It would make children and families stronger and healthier and would help tens of millions of Americans transition through what is the greatest economic and technological transformation in our country’s history.”
On his website, Mr. Yang argues that his Freedom Dividend “would enable all Americans to pay their bills, educate themselves, start businesses, be more creative, stay healthy, relocate for work, spend time with their children, take care of loved ones, and have a real stake in the future.”
He plans to pay for the Freedom Dividend by “consolidating some welfare programs” and instituting a Value-Added Tax, or VAT, which would add a 10-percent tax on the production of goods and services by American businesses.
Under the program, Americans who do not graduate high school will not start receiving their benefits until age 20, and Americans who are already receiving some form of federal assistance “would be ineligible to receive the full $1,000.”
Mr. Yang argues that while his program does not require beneficiaries to be employed, $12,000 a year “is barely enough to live on” and people “will still need to get out there and work.”