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Andrew Yang defends plan to give every American $1,000 a month

Yang defends universal basic income plan

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang defended his proposal to give every American $1,000 a month in a so-called "Freedom Dividend," arguing his plan would actually encourage Americans to increase their productivity.

"Americans will work even harder when they get the resources in place to actually get ahead," Yang said on "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "This is the trickle-up economy, from our people, families and communities up. It will create over 2 million new jobs in our communities because the money will go right into local mainstream businesses, to car repairs, daycare expenses, Little League sign-ups. And that's where the economic value needs to go in order to create jobs where people live and work."

Yang's plan for a universal basic income would provide the money to every American adult no strings attached. The idea of a universal basic income has been embraced by some in Silicon Valley, including Mark Zuckerberg. Yang, himself a tech entrepreneur, argues the stipend will be necessary to help Americans whose jobs are lost to automation over the coming years. 

Yang would impose a value-added tax on consumer purchases to cover the cost of the proposal, which he estimated to be roughly $2 trillion. He pointed to other countries that impose such a tax and chided large corporations that avoid large tax bills in the U.S.

"Every other developed economy already has a mechanism just like this. Europe, Canada, Asia. Everyone has figured out that you can't have a trillion-dollar tech company like Amazon pay zero in taxes, less than everyone who's watching this right now," he said. "That doesn't make any sense, and the American people know it. So, this has already been figured out by every other developed economy and we need to follow suit."

Asked for an example of where a universal basic income system has been implemented, Yang pointed to Alaska, where most residents receive a dividend based mainly on oil revenue.

"If we look within our own country, Alaska's had a dividend of $1,000 to $2,000 per individual for almost 40 years. It was passed by a Republican governor. It's wildly popular. It's created thousands of jobs right there in Alaska," Yang said. "So, you don't even need to look abroad. They call it the 'oil check' in Alaska. We're going to call this the 'tech check.' It's going to help rejuvenate American mainstream businesses and give us all a path forward."

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