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Date: 2024-07-24 Page is: DBtxt003.php txt00018556

Coronavirus Fallout
Andrew Yang and UBI

I checked in on Andrew Yang. Here's what he had to say about COVID-19 and universal basic income


Peter Burgess
I checked in on Andrew Yang. Here's what he had to say about COVID-19 and universal basic income HOPKINTON, NH - FEBRUARY 09: Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang greets people outside of Hopkinton Town Hall following a campaign event on February 9, 2020 in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. The first in the nation primary is on Tuesday, February 11. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images) After Yang dropped from the presidential race the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. Now everyone is talking about universal basic income. RSS Share this article

Just turn on CNN on a debate or primary night and you’ll see that former presidential candidate Andrew Yang hasn’t vanished from the public sphere since suspending his campaign in February. The newly minted pundit, whose vocal support for a universal basic income is more relevant to Americans than ever, endorsed presumptive Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden on live television last week. As the White House and Congress work to support the nation through the COVID-19 pandemic’s widespread impact on the economy, Yang has found increased support for his once-unique idea of a $1,000 per month payment for all Americans in some unlikely places, most notably from Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.

On Friday, March 20, Daily Kos caught up with Yang for a quick phone call about the current crisis and how the country can move through and past it … and his own plans for the future.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. CARA ZELAYA: I wanted to know if you’ve had a chance to talk to Senator Romney during this time, especially in light of his support for some version of UBI during the current pandemic. ANDREW YANG: I haven’t talked to him yet. My team is in touch and I think we should talk soon. At this point the entire administration is looking at it. ZELAYA: Have you been in touch with other elected officials who are interested in adopting a policy similar to what you proposed during your presidential campaign? YANG: Yeah, I’m talking to various people and my team is talking to various people. We have already talked to White House staff and individual members of Congress. ZELAYA: Specifically, how would UBI work at a time like this? As far as UBI during a crisis, what role do you think it has to play? YANG: I think it’s even more vital. We’re in a pandemic, there are millions of Americans that are seeing their jobs completely disappear. Most don’t have meaningful savings. And so universal income would be something that would make us stronger, healthier, mentally healthier, more productive, more trusting, to the very basis of survival for millions of families. It’s common sense and necessary. I believe that it will become clear to millions of Americans that this should not just be a crisis measure but something that we adopt in perpetuity. The truth is, nobody knows how bad the COVID-19 crisis will get, but the idea of universal basic income will surely only grow in popularity through the uncertainty. Maybe then Americans will agree with Yang that universal basic income should be a more consistent source of stability for working families. ZELAYA: Do you think of universal basic income as a human right or is it an attempt to offset the inequalities created by capitalism? YANG: Well, certainly if our economy was operating in a way that the gains were being distributed broadly to the vast majority of people then you might look up and say, “Hey, it seems like things might be working well.” But we haven’t had that economy in decades. And so I see it as a necessary rebalancing of a dysfunctional economy. If you believe that everyone has a right to a degree of security or a chance to live a good life, and it is not happening natively in the economy, then you could see a basic income as something everyone ought to have. That’s certainly the way I see it. ZELAYA: I’m a millennial and my healthcare and my student loan bills are way more than $1,000 a month. This all goes hand in hand, is what you’re saying? Student loan debt reform, universal healthcare, UBI? YANG: Yeah. I mean you can look at my website It’s still up, it has something like 170 policy proposals and UBI is the most well-known and prominent, but the others are very important too. Things have been going wrong for tens of millions of Americans for years and decades now and our government has not responded. That frustration has been building up for years. In my mind, it helped lead to Donald Trump’s election. And Democrats not taking the proper set of lessons from Trump’s election. They then spent everything blaming it on Trump instead of searching deep and soul-searching, “How the heck did this happen to us?” Americans think the Democratic party is not actually fighting for them. There are many many massive changes that should have been made decades ago that we have not made and here we are. So we should be trying to make those changes as quickly as possible given that they didn’t happen when they should have. Universal basic income combined with other progressive policies does seem like something that would benefit the millions that have been left behind by an unjust American economy. ZELAYA: You recently endorsed Vice President Biden and I was wondering if you’ve had conversations with him or are going to be working with him to push for these UBI reforms especially in light of recent events. YANG: Honestly, everyone knows where I stand on most things because I’ve stated them publicly. And I’ve stated publicly that I disagree with Joe’s plans on some things, but obviously it shouldn’t be a requirement when you endorse someone that they agree with everything you believe in. I think one of my roles is to push Joe in certain directions because, in my mind, Joe is going to be our next nominee and we better hope that he’s the next president because if he’s not the next president it’s going to be four more years of Trump. Which would be an epic disaster. ZELAYA: I work a lot with our social media here at Daily Kos and that’s one of the reasons I’ve become a fan of the Yang Gang. Especially as I’ve seen them continue to have some great conversations online. For the rest of 2020, what do you think the role of the Yang Gang is? YANG: It’s a really important role because I think the Yang Gang represents a sort of swing group that could push the election toward Joe Biden. There is one poll that said that 42% of my supporters were not planning on supporting a Democratic nominee. If you get that 42% that’s hundreds of thousands of people nationwide. That could be the crucial block. Also, the Yang Gang is very effective online. I would argue it is possibly more effective than any other constituents. The Yang Gang skews young and Joe is weak among young people. So to me, the Yang Gang is one of the most crucial elements of a winning coalition. It seems like moving forward, Yang understands the importance of uniting his supporters behind the Democratic nominee to ensure that we finally put an end to the Trump presidency. ZELAYA: I went to school in NYC so I gotta ask, are you thinking of running for mayor? YANG: We’re looking at it. A lot of it is me trying to figure out how I can add the most value. I would need to meet the other candidates and see what their story was and see where I can do the most good. POLL 2119 votes Show Results HAS YOUR OPINION ABOUT UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME CHANGED
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