Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang spoke at two events in Los Angeles Saturday to promote his proposal to give every U.S. citizen 18 to 64 years old $1,000 a month from the federal government.
“We need to rebuild our economy into a trickle up economy, from our people up, our families up, our communities up,” Yang told approximately 40 people at what his campaign billed as “an intimate cocktail hour” and fundraiser at The Phoenix restaurant near the Beverly Center. The suggested donation was $100 per person.
Earlier Saturday, Yang and Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs joined Annie Lowery, a contributing editor for The Atlantic, in a discussion titled “Free Money For All: the Case for Universal Basic Income” at the Summit LA18 ideas festival in downtown Los Angeles.
Yang said he is running for president on a platform of universal basic income, “Medicare-for-all,” and “evolution to a human-centered economy.”
Universal basic income would be funded by consolidating some welfare programs and implementing a value-added tax of 10 percent, Yang said.
Yang projects the value added tax would generate $800 billion in new revenue annually.
Current welfare and social program beneficiaries would be given a choice between their current benefits or $1,000 cash unconditionally, with most expected to prefer cash with no restrictions.
Citizens 65 and older would continue to collect Social Security and would not be eligible for universal basic income.
Universal basic income would cause the economy to grow by approximately $2.5 trillion and generate $500 billion – $600 billion in new tax revenue, according to a study by the Roosevelt Institute, which seeks to re-imagine the social and economic policies of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt for the 21st century.
Yang also projects savings of $100 billion – $200 billion from health care, incarceration, homelessness services and related services “as people would take better care of themselves and avoid the emergency room, jail, and the street and would generally be more functional.”
Yang said people would use the money from universal basic income to pay off debt, cover bills, repair a vehicle, buy healthier food, pay student loans and start businesses.
Yang is a 43-year-old entrepreneur and a son of immigrants from Taiwan who met while they were in graduate school at UC Berkeley. If elected, he would be the nation’s first Asian-American president.
Yang received a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Brown University and graduated from Columbia Law School.
Yang was a corporate lawyer with the New York City-based firm Davis Polk for five months, then left the firm to found Stargiving.com, a short-lived internet company that raised money for nonprofit organizations. Following its failure, he became vice president of the health care software startup MWF Systems.
Yang became CEO of the test preparation company Manhattan Prep in 2006, which was acquired by Kaplan in 2009. Yang remained as its president until 2011.
Yang created Venture for America in 2011, an organization helping entrepreneurs create opportunities nationwide. He was honored as a Champion of Change in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama and appointed as a presidential ambassador for global entrepreneurship in 2015.
Yang filed a statement of his presidential candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on Nov. 6, 2017.
“I’m running for president as a Democrat in 2020 because I fear for the future of our country,” Yang said. “New technologies — robots, software, artificial intelligence — have already destroyed more than 4 million U.S. jobs, and in the next five to 10 years, they will eliminate millions more.
“A third of all American workers are at risk of permanent unemployment. And this time, the jobs will not come back.
“It’s clear to me, and to many of the nation’s best job creators, that we need to make an unprecedented change and we need to make it now. But the establishment isn’t willing to take the necessary bold steps.”
Yang will begin what his campaign is billing as the “Humanity First Tour,” Thursday in Detroit.
Yang will hold rallies in seven cities in nine days, discussing his campaign planks, including “changing the focus of our economic measurement from (the gross domestic product) to numbers that reflect the well-being of the average American.”
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