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Presidential candidate Andrew Yang aims to prove it can pay to live in N.H.

  • Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang visits the New Hampshire Democratic Party headquarters in Concord on Wednesday, April 25, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • State Rep. Paul Henle meets with Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang at True Brew Barista in downtown Concord on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, during Yang’s visit to the Granite State. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang talks to state Rep. Paul Henle at True Brew Barista in downtown Concord on Wednesday, April 25, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang visits the New Hampshire Democratic Party headquarters in Concord on Wednesday, April 25, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang visits the New Hampshire Democratic Party headquarters in Concord on Wednesday, April 25, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff



For the Monitor
Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Andrew Yang wants to give you $12,000 a year.

Yang, a long shot for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, came to New Hampshire on Wednesday to announce he’ll personally give a Granite Stater $1,000 each month next year to illustrate his campaign pledge to pay what he calls a freedom dividend to all adult Americans.

“The $12,000 would be universal. No questions asked. No means testing. So if you’re an adult between 18 and 64, you’re going to get it,” Yang said in Concord.

He argued that the money would improve people’s lives as well as the economy, which are two of the chief reasons he wants to be president.

“The great thing about the freedom dividend is that it would create millions of jobs around the country because we’d all spend the money directly into Main Street businesses and the consumer economy,” he said. “The Roosevelt Institute projected that the freedom dividend would grow our economy $2.5 trillion or 13 percent per year and create 4.5 million new jobs around the country.”

Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of Yang.

He was the CEO of the test-prep education company Manhattan GMAT. In 2011, he launched Venture for America, a New York City-headquartered organization that trains entrepreneurs.

Yang declared his candidacy for the White House in February, and Wednesday’s trip to New Hampshire was his first to an early voting primary or caucus state. He met with voters at True Brew Barista in Concord before heading to the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s headquarters to powwow with party officials and announce the details of an unconditional payment of $1,000 per month next year to a fortunate Granite Stater.

“What it’s meant to do is really illustrate the impact of $1,000 a month on the day-to-day life of a Granite State resident. And that’s really the essence of the campaign,” he said. “Our slogan is ‘Humanity first.’ ”

He explained that $12,000 per year is equal to about $6 per hour for a full-time worker.

“It puts you at just about the poverty level in the U.S., which is a little bit more than $12,000,” he said. “And the great thing about a $1,000 a month is that it will make a concrete and immediate difference for families and households around the country but it is not enough to distort labor market behavior because no one is going to go out and quit their job for $1,000 a month.”

Yang said he’d pay for a nationwide universal basic income with a value-added tax, known as a VAT. He’s estimated a 10 percent VAT would raise some $700-800 billion.

“We need to transition over time from an income tax regime to a value-added tax regime, but there would be a period of overlap during the interim,” he added.

Yang said that just cutting taxes doesn’t get money into the hands of those who need it most.

“If you look at the impact of the Republican tax cut that just passed, only 6 percent went to workers and 67 percent went to shareholders,” he argued.

He said his plan would streamline the federal government.

“There is no bureaucracy. It’s the opposite of bureaucracy. It shrinks government because instead of building an expensive new program, we put the money into the hands of American consumers,” he said.

Yang said his presidential campaign intends to help the country as it goes through “the greatest technological and economic shift in human history.”

“We need to accelerate our government and society to rise to the challenges of 2018 and 2020 as opposed to pretending our economy is still going to look like the 1960s and 1970s – which it doesn’t, and it never will again,” he said.

To illustrate his point, he pointed to the eventual automation of occupations like truck drivers or the increased shrinking of retail jobs.

“One in 10 Americans works in retail right now. Thirty percent of malls are going to close in the next four years. And a tax cut doesn’t put money into the hands of American consumers to be able to counterbalance that,” he argued. “The freedom dividend puts money directly in the hands of the American consumers.”

The eventual Democratic presidential field is wide open, with plenty of potential candidates being bandied about. And many of them may be well-known figures, such as former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Yang said he had no doubt he could compete with such household names.

“Seventy percent of Americans believe that technology is going to eliminate many more jobs than it creates over the next 10 years,” he said. “And I am the only candidate with the right vision and priorities and values to help address that central crisis.”

“There are many other great public servants that are going to be running for the Democratic nomination,” he added. “But most of them do not understand technology or the economy as deeply as I do, having worked in startups for the last 17 years.”

And he pointed to the 2016 election of President Donald Trump as a wake-up call.

“I think if someone thinks the antidote or answer to Donald Trump is a really boring, generic Democrat who’s been in office for 30 years, they really miss the entire point of the election, which is that Americans are tired of our government failing us and being way, way behind to the challenges of today,” Yang said.

“Donald Trump’s election, to me, was a sign of institutional failings that have gone on, on both sides of the aisle, for the last several decades. And the Democratic Party, in my view, needs to be infused with a new vision and a new energy that will positively impact people’s lives,” he added.