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Andrew Yang is the anti-Trump candidate

If there is one presidential candidate who is the complete opposite of Donald Trump, it is Andrew Yang.

Yang is the son of two immigrant parents from Taiwan, graduating from Columbia University with his Juris Doctorate and Brown University with a degree in economics. In 2011, Yang started the non-profit Venture for America to help college graduates connect with startups throughout the United States.

Now Yang has thrown his hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination for president. What makes Yang stand out is his candidacy largely revolves around one issue: Universal Basic Income (UBI).

In fact, Yang has the opportunity to make UBI a serious issue in a US presidential campaign for the first time since George McGovern proposed a basic income style program as the Democratic nominee against Richard Nixon in 1972.

Nixon attacked the cost of McGovern’s basic income policy. Under scrutiny, McGovern abandoned the idea and still ultimately lost to Nixon. Basic income’s latest chapter in American political history is now being written, but it is up to Yang to prove he is politically savvy enough to write a different ending.

Yang’s campaign will try to win over skeptical voters with a mini basic income trial for one resident of both Iowa and New Hampshire. Yang said they are currently choosing the recipient from New Hampshire.

“The purpose is to have a demonstration of the fact that people’s lives improve and people do positive things with a thousand dollars a month,” Yang said.

When average voters hear about UBI for the first time, they treat the idea with skepticism, Yang said.

“We are programmed for scarcity particularly where money is concerned, and so most people have trouble conceiving of the fact that we can provide a basic income to all adults in America,” Yang said.

So far, Yang said he has not seen mainstream Democrats moving toward basic income. Instead,  some Democrats are embracing the idea of a jobs guarantee program. Yang said a jobs guarantee would be a “bad idea,” because past government employment programs have low success in transitioning employees to the private sector.

His opposition to the jobs guarantee does not mean Yang will refuse to compromise. He said a Negative Income Tax (NIT) would be an “outstanding step in the right direction.”

NIT would provide a minimum guaranteed income but the government would phase out the stipend based on one’s market income. UBI would achieve a phase-out indirectly, since some recipients will be net receivers, and others will pay back more in taxes than they receive from a basic income. A negative income tax “would be a massive game changer for millions of Americans here and now,” Yang said.

Those familiar with Yang probably already know his views about basic income. In my interview with him, I wanted to know more about how he would formulate policies as president.

On the other issues in his campaign, Yang said he supports gun control, renewable energy, a carbon tax, and abortion rights.

Before becoming president, though, Yang will have to fight a crowded field in the Democratic primary. With big hitters such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Yang may get lost in the field.

Bernie Sanders, who has flirted with basic income, holds similar views to Yang. For his part, Yang said he is “aligned” with Sanders on most policy issues, and he said some have called him the “younger Asian Bernie Sanders.”

However, Yang said how Sanders view of the modern economic system is “a little out of date.”

“(Sanders) believes that if we coerce companies into treating workers better then that will solve the problem. I believe that the relationship between corporate success and workers has fundamentally changed forever, where 94 percent of the new jobs created from 2005 to 2015 were temporary gig contract jobs which did not have healthcare benefits,” Yang said.

“The plain truth is that companies can now grow and succeed without hiring lots of people or treating them well,” he said. “So we need to build a new social contract that does not assume that work is going to look the same way it has over the last number of decades.

One of the criticisms of Sanders during the 2016 presidential campaign was his lack of clarity on foreign policy. Yang said he has a “number” of advisors who are helping to form his platform for foreign affairs.

On Yang’s diplomatic principles, he said that he would be “restrained” in his foreign policy.

“America has gotten itself into trouble by imagining it’s capable of doing things it may not be capable of and we need to be much more restrained and not succumb to grandiose visions for other societies,” Yang said.

Previously, Yang has stated he supports “status quo” policies toward China and Taiwan, which recognizes the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the legal representative of China, and acknowledges the PRC’s position that Taiwan is part of China.

Yang points out the “extraordinary” relationships between the US and Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. He said America should avoid the dynamic that China and America are inevitably going to be in opposition, and that our relationship with China is also critical since they are America’s largest trading partner.

On the trade war with China, Yang said the current environment with constant changes in tariffs has made it “impossible” for businesses to plan and operate. While he acknowledges trade imbalances with China, he said a trade war is not “constructive.”

And then there is the elephant in the room, how exactly does Yang plan to take on the master of media Donald Trump?

“The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes numbers,” Yang said. “There is a natural dynamic in American politics where the pendulum will swing in the other direction. From Donald Trump the pendulum is going to swing in my direction.”

“I am very confident in my ability to defeat Donald Trump in the general election if I become the nominee,” Yang said.

About Tyler Prochazka

Tyler Prochazka has written 81 articles.

Tyler Prochazka is a PhD candidate in Asia Pacific Studies at National Chengchi University in Taiwan. He is the features editor of Basic Income News and the chairman of UBI Taiwan. Support my work with UBI Taiwan: https://www.patreon.com/typro Facebook.com/TaiwanUBI @typro

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

6 comments

  • I hope he doesn’t run on that alone. Andrew Yang has a great opportunity, however, if the only thing he runs on is “I am not Trump!”. His campaign is doomed.

    • John Lind

      Trump will just say that Yang is Chinese and likes China and wants to work for China and that Trump is American who likes the US and wants to work for the United States. Trump will then say what do you want to vote for the US or China, I vote for the United States, I love the United States.

  • Angela

    Wondering why the credit stops at 65 even though at 65 and for years before and after that I was driving a 2 hour drive to help my father in his 90s (who lived at home to just days before 100 with a suprapubic catheter comes through abdomen) at his home and also my blind aunt hours away who lives alone at 94 and qualifies for nothing other than social security under $500 a month and an extra tax credit for being blind.
    She is still living in her home with me making that trip regularly to pay her bills, buy groceries and anything else she needs, stamps, refrigerator, whatever, and drive her to appointments since she has always been too vision impaired to drive.

    I did work as a public agency social worker for 13 years but had to stop early after our adopted son turned out to have disabilities which include one on the autism spectrum.

    Now his 6 year old son has that and seversl other diagnoses.

    I am 67 and not only driving for hours for these people most weeks but also financially subsidizing them at times since the three school systems we tried for our son were all terrible in addressing his needs. or employment potential. I also spent money on therapies, private schools for special needs, etc. for all the good that did. So I wonder why you cut off the credit at 65. I never even wanted to quit work but had to do so due to our son’s many appointments.

    Why, when I have spent 30 years supporting a child born in America, and helping my blind aunt to this day and my father until I was almost 67, should I not get the credit just because I am past 65. What reasoning is there for that?

    I even sometimes subsidize the three of them at times financially at a time when I need to prepare for my own needs when old since as an only child I will have no relatives to assist me.

    • Andre Coelho

      Dear Angela,

      It may be that Andrew Yang only proposed that 65 year limit because of the existing social security retirement…so these would not overlap.

      Best regards,

  • John Lind

    Trump will just say that Yang is Chinese and likes China and wants to work for China and that Trump is American who likes the US and wants to work for the United States. Trump will then say what do you want to vote for the US or China, I vote for the United States, I love the United States.

    • Andre Coelho

      Dear John,

      That is, of course, a very limited – and most probably false – assumption. But everyone is entitled to his/her opinion.

      Best regards,

      André

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