The longest of long-shot bids to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2020 is gaining some serious attention.
Schenectady native Andrew Yang, a tech entrepreneur, appeared on two national news programs, and received coverage from Politico and Newsweek after surpassing the 65,000 individual donors needed to get on the DNC debate stage in June.
Yang, 44, was on ‘This Week’ with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday as well as ‘AM Joy’ with Ali Velshi last week. He’ll also host a CNN town hall on April 14. U.S. Sen Kirsten Gillibrand’s CNN town hall is scheduled for Tuesday.
Yang told Velshi that he believes Donald Trump was elected largely because automation removed millions of manufacturing jobs from swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. To win the White House, Democrats need to be able to have an answer for the people affected by that change, Yang said.
“To me, the job of the Democrats is to address the problems that got Donald Trump elected, he said.
Yang believes that technological advances in automation and artificial intelligence will mean even more job losses in the service and retail sectors of the economy.
“My campaign is about helping millions of Americans through this historic period,” he told Velshi.
On Sunday, he explained the biggest issue in his platform, a $1,000 per month payment to every adult age 18 to 64, to Stephanopoulos. Yang has branded the payment the “Freedom Dividend” and compares it to the payment all residents of Alaska receive from a fund paid for by oil companies’ revenue.
“We need to evolve to the next form of our economy in order for Americans to have a path forward,” he said.
Yang’s plan would cost more than $2 trillion. To pay for the program, which would be more than half the entire United States government budget, Yang wants to institute a value-added tax on the companies that have benefited the most from automation and other technological advances.
Value-added taxes are common in other parts of the world, especially the European Union.
The rest of his policy positions are in line with most of the Democratic field – single-payer healthcare, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, fighting climate change and reducing the cost of higher education.
But beyond media attention, Yang’s campaign is also getting support from donors.
Politico reported that Yang’s campaign raised $1.7 million in the first quarter of the year from more than 80,000 donors. According to the campaign, 99 percent of donations were under $200; the average donation was $17.92.
Yang’s biggest rivals easily outraised him. Sen. Bernie Sanders took in over $18 million while Sen. Kamala Harris raised around $12 million.
But Yang’s campaign is resonating enough that if he continues to poll with at least 1 percent support, he’ll be on the debate stage for the first Democratic debate, which will be held on June 26 and 27 in Miami.
Under the Democratic National Committee rules, candidates must receive at least 1 percent support in at least three polls or receive donations from more than 65,000 individual donors along with a minimum of 200 donors in at least 20 states.
Yang would join Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson as the only non-elected officials in the past 40 years to make the first Democratic presidential debate in a cycle, according to Politico.
And if he somehow knocks aside every other candidate to become the party’s nominee, he would be the first Asian-American nominee of any major political party.
Yang spent his first four years in Schenectady before his father took a job with IBM and the family moved to Yorktown Heights. He went to Phillips Exeter Academy and graduated from Brown University with a degree in economics before getting a law degree at Columbia Law School.
After his first company failed, Yang joined several other entrepreneurs who eventually started a test prep company that Kaplan bought out in 2009. In 2011, he started Venture for America, a non-profit designed to encourage entrepreneurship and start-up companies in struggling communities.
He launched his presidential bid in 2017, recognizing from the start it was a long-shot.
At a town hall in January at the Chinese Community Center’s Chinese School at Shaker Junior High School, Yang said his plan to possibly become the nominee comes down to surviving Iowa and then hoping to capitalize on California’s large Asian-American population.
The Iowa Democratic caucus typically sees around 170,000 voters, Yang said. If he can get 40,000 Iowans to vote for him, he believes he’ll capture national attention, giving him momentum in the next few primaries.
“That is the test, that is the only test,” he said in January.
Published at Sun, 07 Apr 2019 20:10:44 +0000