It’s only March of 2019 but the 2020 Presidential race is already heating up as nearly 20 Democrats begin competing for the party nomination to face off against President Trump next fall. With all of these different candidates and ideas floating through the media it can be easy to get disoriented and overwhelmed. In this blog, I will go through each of the candidates platforms to help you be informed on which each candidate stands for. Today I will be discussing the longshot campaign Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang.
Now, you may not have heard about Mr. Yang and you may be wondering I would cover such an obscure candidate before anyone else. The reason is that he is such an obscure candidate and I think it is important that his name be known simply because his ideas and his platform are so unique and fresh. To be honest, I didn’t know about Andrew Yang until I saw him polling 1% in a democratic primary poll, and I didn’t even take real notice of him until I saw him on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah. However, after taking a look into his campaign platform, I can honestly say that Andrew Yang may be one of the most overlooked candidates in the Democratic primary. While that isn’t saying much at the moment considering the Iowa caucus is a little over 10 months away, it makes more sense when you see many mainstream media outlets hardly counting him as a candidate in the race.
The foundation of Yangs platform -And if you have heard of Andrew Yang before I guarantee you have heard about this- is a plan for a Universal Basic Income that he calls “The Freedom Dividend”. Plans like this are why I love politics and also why primaries are so important. The Freedom Dividend would guarantee each American citizen over 18 years of age $1000 a month for a grand total of $12,000 a year. That’s a pretty radical idea and something that I thought was absolutely insane until I went to Andrew Yang’s website (www.yang2020.com) and read about how he planned to implement this program. Initially, you think it would lead to a massive increase in taxes for the poor and middle class citizens. But with Andrew Yang, that isn’t the case.
Yang proposes a 10% Value Added Tax on big tech companies such as Google and Amazon. For those who might not know, a value added tax is a tax on the production of goods or services a company produces. This tax is also nothing new in the world and is actually quite common in many European and Asian countries. It is estimated that a VAT of 10% could generate $800 billion in new revenue to pay for the cost of the Freedom Dividend (Which would be over $250 billion dollars per month and roughly 3 trillion dollars per year). Yang would also consolidate current welfare programs and give welfare recipients the option of staying on their current plans or receiving the freedom dividend.
I gotta say, I like this plan. I think its well thought out and it would be a major boon for every American. The cost is major but it has the opportunity to create permanent growth in the economy as people have more discretionary income. Just think about what you would do with an extra $1000 a month. It would be a game changer for many families.
After looking more into Yangs campaign, I realized that UBI is only the tip of a titanic-sinking iceberg. Yang has a list of policy ideas a mile long ranging from the common medicare for all to requiring the NCAA to pay athletes. Here are just a few of a long list of policy proposals from his website.
- Medicare for all. We all know that you can’t run for the democratic nomination without being in favor of medicare for all and Yang is no different, However, he is one of the few to detail how such a program would be put in place. On his website, he suggests implementing a system similar to the Cleveland Clinic where doctors are paid a flat salary that enables them to spend more time with each patient. He also suggests a holistic approach that would interlink mental and physical health treatment.
- One very Unique policy approach that I found interesting was called “Human-Centered Capitalism” I think this policy is going to be very important to getting Yang votes going forward because it will help him combat the “All democrats are socialists” message being propagated by many conservatives. That being said, this is a very radical policy proposal that will reform the American Economy into something entirely new. Instead of focusing on GDP and stock market values, Yang wants to focus on median income, standard of living, life expectancy, mental health, childhood success, social and economic mobility, and absence of substance abuse. He would also appoint corporate regulators who would be paid a large sum of money to prevent excessive corporations and create a new form of currency called the “Digital Social Credit” that would be earned based on positively impacting social value and could be converted into real U.S. Dollars.
Honestly, this won’t happen. With the amount of corporate influence in government as well as the daily lives of every american, Andrew Yang would be very hard pressed to get any of these policies in effect. Not only that, but changing how we measure the economy won’t affect how the economy works, it will give us more visibility into how the average American lives, but I don’t see that having an effect on the function of the American and greater world economy. It would be fantastic if we had an economy that worked in the interests of the average human but this policy is pie in the sky even by my standards. That being said, I am happy to see new ideas like this brought into the conversation as it gives us the opportunity to discuss and critique them into something that may actually work.
3. The controlling of higher-education costs. It was announced in late February that student loan debt in America is $1.5 trillion -which I personally find to be outrageous and counter productive to the american economy but that’s a topic for another time- A growing number of politicians on both sides are proposing various ways to deal with this, ranging from controlling student loan borrowing to free college for all. In a world where higher education is becoming more important to living a prosperous life, I am glad that this issue is being addressed and I think Andrew Yang’s approach is once again unique and something worth talking about.
Instead of making college free or fixing student loan rates, Yang wants to bring the issue of student debt to the schools. Here are his proposals that are listed on his website:
- Explore a gradual phase-in of a desired ratio of administrators to students of 1 to 30 as a condition of public funding as opposed to the current 1 to 21. The ratio was 1 to 50 in the 1970s
- Work with the Dept. of Education to create an information database on all post-secondary education institutions, focusing on information such as:
- Avg. debt of a graduating student
- Avg. debt discounting students who don’t take out loans
- Avg. salary of a recent graduate
- Avg. salary of a graduate 10 years out
- Stipulate that any university that receives public funding cannot increase its costs by more than the rate of annual median wage growth the year before.
- Stipulate that the president of any university that receives public funding must meet once per year with a group of alumni to discuss their job prospects.
- Amend or modify the U.S. News and World Report rankings and eliminate the ability of any university to compensate administrators with incentives tied to their rankings.
- Require all universities with endowments of over $30 billion to contribute 1% of their total endowment each year ($300 million+/year) to the founding and operations of a new university in Ohio until it becomes self-sustaining, at which point another community will be identified (the “Harvard Creates a New University in Ohio Tax”).
- Revisit the tax-exempt status for schools that have more than enough money to fund their operations and aren’t investing that money back into the students at that institution.
- Invest in and support schools that are innovating and growing.
Looking at this, I am not quite sure how much it will help the overall issue of student debt but it is a unique approach that may have a positive effect on reducing overall debt and tuition prices. I find the “Harvard creates a new University in Ohio tax” to be very odd and I don’t think it mitigates the issue of rising tuition costs. Why not direct those schools to lower tuition prices with the money instead of create a whole new university?
In conclusion, Andrew Yang is definitely the outsider candidate in the democratic primary. And by that I don’t mean he is the Donald Trump of the Democratic party where he is going to be bombastic and scandalous. Yang is a unique candidate who will have to scratch and claw his way into the spotlight. He does qualify for the first round of debates which is something some current candidates don’t have. I think that will be his best opportunity to rise up. No matter your political ideologies I recommend that you look this guy up and read his ideas at yang2020.com or read his book “The war on normal people” I haven’t read it yet but after looking into Yang’s candidacy you can be sure it is next on my list.
I hope you enjoyed this look into a relatively obscure candidate in the domocratic primary. I am a firm believer that everyone should research every candidate in a primary before picking a side. I have done so, and you will be seeing more posts here soon about other candidates in the field. If you have anything to say about Yang or any of the other candidates in the Democratic or Republican party, leave them in the comments and I’ll be happy to discuss with you!