Andrew Yang on Universal Basic Income

Andrew Yang, 44, is participating on Thursday in the second Democratic presidential primary debate. Mr. Yang is a political neophyte and former tech executive with a devoted internet following known as the “Yang Gang.” As he has traveled across the country, running what he has called the “nerdiest presidential campaign in history,” he has unabashedly embraced his Taiwanese-American background.

He believes that one way to help soften the impact of automation is through a universal basic income, which he has made a central part of his campaign. Mr. Yang has promised to give Americans $12,000 a year. Here’s a deeper look at his proposal.

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  • Mr. Yang wants the federal government to give each American adult a monthly check for $1,000, regardless of income or employment status. He has branded the payments the “Freedom Dividend.”

  • Medicare and Medicaid would be unaffected under Mr. Yang’s plan, but people receiving government benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could choose to continue receiving those benefits, or take the $12,000 yearly payment instead.

  • As a relatively obscure candidate, Mr. Yang often acknowledges that the only thing people may know about him — if they have heard of him at all — is that he as “an Asian man running for president who wants to give everyone $1,000 a month.”

  • His fans, known as the “Yang Gang,” have helped boost Mr. Yang’s popularity by turning him into a series of internet memes, which mostly revolve around free money.

  • Giving everyone $1,000 a month would come with a hefty price tag. Mr. Yang suggests paying for it in part by imposing a Value-Added Tax of 10 percent.

  • But he would need the help of Congress to get any of this done. And although Mr. Yang thinks some Republicans would eventually buy into universal basic income, it’s a near certainty that most would balk.

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