Andrew Yang focuses campaign on universal basic income


Alexander Gray/ Iowa State Daily

Andrew Yang was joined onstage by Evelyn Yang at the “Yangapalooza” rally ahead of the the Iowa Democratic Party’s ‘Liberty and Justice Celebration’ Friday in Des Moines. Andrew Yang has frequently referenced his wife, a stay at home mother, for why to support universal basic income. 

Eli Harris

The Democratic primary currently has 16 candidates competing to stand out to voters and businessman Andrew Yang is one of them, bringing a flagship policy position of a universal basic income.

After Yang graduated from law school, he was hired at a law firm but soon left and joined several start-up businesses over a several year period, eventually earning a CEO position at a test prep company.

In 2012, Yang was named as an Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship as well as a Champion of Change in 2012 by President Obama. 

In November 2017, Yang announced his run for the presidency, making him one of the earliest candidates to do so.

Yang’s flagship universal basic income proposal is called the Freedom Dividend by his campaign.

It would be a universal basic income measure granting every American adult 18 years or older in the United States money from the government. The beginning proposal is $1,000 a month with the possibility of change over time.

When proposing to pay for the Freedom Dividend, Yang suggests a tax on companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google. He would also likely have to raise taxes due to the estimated $2.8 trillion cost of the initiative.

Another campaign issue Yang has discussed is “Medicare for All.” His policy is all Americans must have guaranteed access to medicine. He has also proposed a flat salary for doctors, saying it would help to clarify and stabilize costs of medical procedures.

The final main policy is what Yang is calling human-centered capitalism. He has said he believes the current trend of the U.S. capitalist system is not benefiting  many people.

Overall, Yang is polling anywhere from one to six percent support nationally among likely Democratic primary voters. This has allowed him to qualify for all of the Democratic presidential debates. Despite not coming from a political background, Yang has been successful in outperforming several lifelong politicians.

Jackson Miller, sophomore in journalism and mass communication at Iowa State, is the social media director for the “Cyclones for Yang” group.

Miller said there are a few reasons for Yang’s success. One reason Miller said is the level of impact through social media and the internet the campaign has been able to achieve.

“His online presence is huge,” Miller said.

According to a College Pulse poll, Yang is tied for third among Democratic voting college students with Joe Biden with nine percent support. Bernie Sanders leads with 32 percent support, followed by Elizabeth Warren with 25 percent support.

Miller said he thinks college students like Yang because of his ability to back up his arguments.

Yang has appeared on online shows including the Joe Rogan podcast as well as the Ben Shapiro Show.

Other Democratic candidates may have not done the same because they are unable to support their ideas, but Yang can, Miller said.

“He’s capable of backing up his claims with actual data and facts,” Miller said.

In a Siena College poll released Friday, Yang is tied for sixth place among likely Iowa Democratic caucusgoers with three percent support alongside Kamala Harris. Warren currently leads with 22 percent support followed by Sanders with 19, Pete Buttigieg with 18, Biden with 17 and Amy Klobuchar with four percent support. All other candidates have two percent support or less.