By Justin Chermol
At least 12 Democrats have thrown their names in the ring for 2020 ー but only one is promising free money.
Andrew Yang, a lawyer, entrepreneur, and founder of Venture for America, isn't the most likely presidential candidate, but he's hoping that voters will buy his major idea: universal basic income.
"It's $1,000 dollars a month, $12,000 a year," Yang told Cheddar Thursday.
His proposal is to grant every U.S. citizen between the ages of 18 and 64 ー no matter their yearly income ー a monthly sum of $1,000. In order to fund that plan, Yang is proposing a value-added tax on behemoths like Google ($GOOGL) or Amazon ($AMZN). Similar taxation measures have been adopted in European countries.
"We would get the public a slice of every Amazon sale, every Google search, every robot truck mile, and that would be enough to pay for a dividend of a $1,000 per month for all Americans," Yang explained, adding that he calls this form of UBI a "Freedom Dividend."
This concept, popularized by economist and famed neoliberal Milton Friedman has recently attracted attention in certain progressive circles.
Yang's larger agenda is to spotlight to risks in automation and manufacturing in a tech-centric economy.
Yang credits Trump for seizing on the industrial Midwest ー a region that has lost many jobs to automation ー in his campaign.
"It's very clear that the main reason he won is that we automated away 4 million jobs in the Midwest," he said.
"I mean, look around us, we're at the New York Stock Exchange, this used to be wall-to-wall humans, and now its wall-to-wall silent monitors, and just a few people as a backdrop."
Yang gained popularity after his two-plus hour podcast with Joe Rogan. Since the podcast aired on YouTube, Yang has received over $250,000 in donations from well over 23,000 people. According to some early projection polls, Yang has hit 1 percent in support.
But beyond the success of his own campaign, Yang's hope is that his ideas gain currency within the Democratic Party.
"I'm on the record as saying if other candidates were to adopt my ideas and policies that would be tremendous," he said.
For full interview click here.