PELLA — Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang wants you to receive $1,000 per month, funded through a tax on automation.
Yang took this campaign promise to Central College Thursday on a group of mostly college students. He has policy points beyond this, his website lists 77 policy points. But what he calls the Freedom Dividend stands out.
It’s not the first time such a concept has been floated, as Yang pointed out. Even solidly red Alaska has a program that give residents royalties from oil proceeds — now in excess of $2,000 yearly.
The campaign promise centers around what Yang views as the reason Iowa is becoming more Republican. The reason President Donald Trump won the state so easily, and the reason Democrats are finding tougher times in elections in what was traditionally a purple state politically.
It comes down to the takeover of jobs from automation.
“The reason why Donald Trump is our president is that we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri — and 40,000 right here in Iowa,” Yang said. “When those jobs go away, people become angry, people become sad, and people become Republican.”
Yang said this automation swing will have a larger impact on our economy than the industrial revolution.
“I just passed ... the biggest truck stop in the country,” Yang said Thursday in Pella. “How many years do you all think it will be before the trucks start driving themselves? ... 5-10 years.
“I’ve talked to my friends in Silicon Valley and they tell me we are 98 percent of the way there. Now two percent is still a lot ... but their incentives to try and get that last two percent are $168 billion dollars per year. That’s the pot of gold.”
So, Yang wants to put a tax on automation onto companies. The proceeds from that, he said, would allow every American to collect, via an opt-in system with no income restrictions, to receive $1,000 per month.
The amount would be equivalent to a $6 per hour raise for a full-time worker. It would mean debates about minimum wage wouldn’t be necessary, Yang said (though he supports the concept of full-time workers being able to make ends meet).
“We’re the richest, most advanced economy in the history of the world,” Yang said. “We can easily afford to $1,000 for every adult. Having people open their minds to that possibility is the great challenge to this campaign.”
Other policy positions, according to his website including beginning a journalism fund through the FCC to sustain local journalism, rebuilding America’s infrastructure, Medicare for all, and combatting climate change.
Yang told attendees Thursday Iowa is important to his campaign. Either a surprise win here, or a high finish, in the Iowa Causes could propel his campaign into the spotlight and lead to quick victories on the campaign trail.