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As some presidential candidates continue to
drop from the race ahead of the Iowa Caucuses, one
non-traditional one is still in it, and still
growing his followers online.
We sit down with democratic presidential
candidate Andrew Yang on this edition of Iowa
Funding for Iowa Press was provided by Friends, the
Iowa Public Television Foundation.
The Associated General Contractors of Iowa, the
public's partner in building Iowa's highway,
bridge and municipal utility infrastructure.
I'm a dad.
I am a mom.
I'm a kid.
I'm a kid at heart.
I'm a banker.
I'm an Iowa banker.
No matter who you are, there is an Iowa banker
who is ready to help you get where you want to go.
Iowa bankers, allowing you to discover the genuine
difference of Iowa banks.
For decades Iowa Press has brought you
politicians and newsmakers from across Iowa and
Celebrating nearly 50 years of broadcast
excellence on statewide Iowa PBS, this is the
Friday, January 10 edition of Iowa Press.
Here is David Yepsen.
Yepsen: Only months since an enormous
field of presidential candidates descended on
the Iowa State Fair, the field has dwindled, almost
a dozen candidates have left the race since
But one unlikely contender is still in it.
And this entrepreneur is still growing his
following online in what he calls the "Yang Gang".
Andrew Yang is pursuing the democratic nomination
for President and he joins us for the first time here
at the Iowa Press table.
Mr. Yang, welcome to the show.
Yang: It's great to be here.
Thank you for having me, David.
Yepsen: And I want our viewers to know that to
accommodate your schedule and ours we're taping this
program on January 3rd.
Journalists joining us across the table today are
Caroline Cummings, Reporter for Sinclair
Broadcast Group and Kay Henderson, News Director
at Radio Iowa.
Henderson: Let's begin with this question, what
is your reaction to the U.S.
drone strike that killed Iran's top general?
Yang: To me it was a disproportionate response
and it's dangerously pushing us towards full on
armed conflict with Iran, which is not the will of
the American people.
So to me we need to pull back, we need to
deescalate tensions in the region, protect our bases
and embassies in the area.
But bigger picture this could have been avoided if
we had stayed in the multilateral.
nuclear agreement with Iran that President Trump
pulled us out of, which ended up leading to this
series of provocations.
We need to go back to first principles.
In our Constitution it says that it is an act of
Congress to declare war and that has not been the
case since 2001.
We have been in a constant state of armed conflict
since 2001 and we need to push the power to declare
war back to Congress where it belongs.
Henderson: If voters are undone by this, how do you
argue that your experience is better in the Oval
Office than someone like Vice President Joe Biden
with his foreign policy portfolio, or someone like
Pete Buttigieg who has a military background?
Yang: As Commander in Chief I will be focused on
the greatest threats of the 21st century which
include state actors, like Iran yes, but also climate
change, artificial intelligence, cyber
These are issues that frankly an extra aircraft
carrier may not help secure us against.
To me those are the real challenges of this time
and that is where I would lead us as President.
Cummings: Why would you be a good wartime President?
Yang: When I talk to Iowans and people around
the country what they're looking for in a Commander
in Chief is a sense of judgment and values and I
would approach these life and death decisions with
the values of the American people in mind.
When I talk to Americans around the country they do
not want us to be putting our brave men and women
into harm's way in foreign theaters that are not core
to our national interests.
Cummings: You recently said on Twitter in
response to this that you have signed a pledge to
end "forever wars".
Is there ever a time though that there is no
Yang: I have a three part test for when I would
intervene militarily.
The first is that there needs to be a vital
national interest at stake or the ability to avert a
clear humanitarian catastrophe.
Number two, there needs to be a well-defined timeline
where we can bring our troops home.
And number three, we need to have partners and
allies that are willing to join us in the mission.
If these three conditions are satisfied then I would
consider engaging our troops but it needs to be
a very high threshold.
I speak to veterans here in Iowa and across the
country and many of them are still struggling.
To me the investment has to be when you recruit men
and women into the Armed Forces, but then it has to
persist after they come home.
Our resources right now are heading to things that
are not making our people stronger or more secure.
Yepsen: Let's talk about your campaign.
The hallmark of your campaign is something
called a universal basic income.
Would you explain that to us?
Yang: The freedom dividend is a policy where every
American adult gets $1000 a month from the age 18
until you expire.
That seems very dramatic but this is a deeply
American idea that has been with us since our
Thomas Paine was for it, Martin Luther King was for
it, Milton Friedman was for it and one state,
Alaska, has had a dividend in effect for almost 40
years where now everyone in the state gets between
$1000 and $2000 a year no questions asked.
What oil is to the people of Alaska, technology is
to the entire country.
Here in Iowa this state went red in the 2016
election because we blasted away 40,000
manufacturing jobs right here in the state.
And what we did to those jobs we are now doing to
retail jobs throughout the state where 30% of your
stores and malls are closing forever.
It started on your farms and moved to your
factories, now it's on your Main Streets,
eventually it will hit your highways in the form
of self-driving trucks.
We need to have a freedom dividend in place so
everyone here in Iowa actually participates in
the gains of the 21st century economy instead of
being sucked dry, which is what is happening to many
rural areas here in Iowa and around the country.
Yepsen: Why do you call it the freedom dividend?
Yang: It's a dividend on our shared economic
progress and it makes us more free to pursue the
kind of work that we want to do every day.
It also recognizes the kind of work that my wife
does at home with our two boys, one of whom is
That work does not get included in our economic
measurements, it is not recognized by our market
as having value, and we know that is the most
valuable and challenging work that anyone is doing.
So the freedom dividend would recognize the work
we're already doing in our families and communities
and it also makes us more free to pursue work that
would meet our own needs and values.
Cummings: You cited Alaska, or you cited it on
this program and you cite it on the trail, but that
is based on oil money and it's also a different
You're talking about $1000 a month for a whole year,
this is $1000 to $2000 a year.
Considering that and Alaska's population is it
a fair test case for a universal basic income for
the country?
And are there things in Alaska's economy that you
can point to, to say this actually really works?
Yang: If you look at the petroleum dividend first
it was passed by a republican Governor in a
deep red state.
It is wildly popular, has created thousands of jobs,
has improved children's health and nutrition and
has decreased income inequality in the state.
If you look up, we have a trillion dollar tech
company, Amazon, that is paying literally zero in
taxes, less than everyone watching this at home
right now.
It's not just Amazon.
Many of our tech giants are paying zero or near
zero in taxes and they're selling and reselling our
data for tens of billions of dollars.
I joke with voters on the trail, if our data is so
valuable why didn't you get a data check in the
And then they laugh.
But I tell them, the data checks are all flowing
straight to Facebook and Amazon and Google.
So what oil is to Alaska, technology, data, AI,
software, is to the rest of the country.
And the biggest winners in the 21st century economy
are not actually sharing those winnings with the
rest of us.
That is what I'm going to change as President.
Cummings: So how do you actually pay for that
Critics of the idea like the Tax Foundation say the
math just doesn't add up.
Yang: Well, I love math and if you look at our
system, again, if you have the biggest companies in
our society paying zero in taxes then of course it's
going to be hard to pay for much of anything.
But if you put a mechanism in place where we get our
fair share of every Amazon sale, every Google search,
every Facebook ad, eventually every robot
truck mile and AI work unit, it will generate
hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue from
day one.
And then when this thousand dollar dividend
is in the hands of every Iowan the money will go
right back into your communities to car repairs
you've been putting off and daycare expenses and
little league signups and local non-profits and
religious organizations.
This is the trickle up economy from our people,
families and our communities up because the
money doesn't disappear, it circulates right
through our Main Streets every single day.
Yepsen: Talk about the taxes you would have to
raise to pay for this.
A value added tax?
National sales tax?
Talk about those elements.
Yang: So if you look around the world other
countries have had the same issue that we have
where you have the Amazons paying zero in taxes.
So what they have done is they have passed a value
added tax that takes a tiny toll at the point of
sale and it's impossible for these companies to
escape that kind of transactional tax.
So if you had that kind of tax on the Amazons of our
country it ends up generating hundreds of
billions of dollars of revenue very quickly.
So a value added tax at even half the European
level would generate more than $800 billion in new
revenue with a giant up arrow attached to it
because these companies are producing more value
every day.
Right now if artificial intelligence software
comes out and replaces the 2.5 million Americans who
work at call centers right now who make $14 an hour
we're not going to see a dime of that value unless
we have this kind of mechanism in place.
Yepsen: What percentage value added tax?
Yang: Half the European level would be
approximately 10%.
But what you can do is you can ratchet that up on
things like artificial intelligence and robot
trucks and then exempt things like diapers and
You can have the toll be higher on the things that
you want to target most effectively.
Yepsen: Caroline mentioned the Tax Foundation.
The Tax Foundation says it will have to be more like
22% and you can only afford $750 a month.
Yeah, it's math and all that, but there's a big
difference in the cost of what this would be and
also just how much Americans would get out of
Yang: What the Tax Foundation is missing,
again, is the trickle up second order benefit and
impact of having this money in our hands because
Iowans know this, 78% of us are living paycheck to
paycheck, almost half of us can't afford an
unexpected $500 bill, so if you put $1000 into our
hands it will get spent in our communities and it
will circulate through our communities multiple times
and that will generate in itself hundreds of
billions of dollars in new value and tax revenue.
It will also be an almost unprecedented boon to
creativity, arts, culture, entrepreneurship, new
business formation, and risk taking.
Right now rates of new business formation in Iowa
and around the country are at multi-decade lows
because people don't have the means to be able to
take a risk.
We have loaded our young people up with record
levels of student loan debt.
And if you're not starting new businesses then you're
going to have a very hard time creating the growth
and jobs that you need.
You put this dividend in our hands and you will see
the new business formation rates rise very quickly.
Henderson: Other than the universal basic income
sort of way to tide the economy over as it
transitions because of artificial intelligence do
you foresee measures that the federal government
should take to regulate robotics?
Yang: I do.
Right now our government is 25 years behind the
curve on technology and I can say that with
precision because we got rid of the Office of
Technology Assessment in 1995.
So Congress has been flying blind on technology
issues for over two decades.
And if you turn on any of the D.C. programming you
sense that they don't get it, they don't understand
that our kids right now are addicted to
smartphones, that we have some of the smartest
programmers in our country turning super computers
into dopamine delivery devices for our teenagers.
D.C. is way behind that curve.
D.C. doesn't understand what is going on with AI
and robotics.
So it's not just about this dividend that is
distributed throughout our society to make us all
It's also that we need to get into the labs and
partner with some of the leading technology firms
to make sure they're not doing something
problematic or even disastrous.
Henderson: How do you do that in a capitalistic
society, put limits on technology?
Yang: I am friends with some of the leading
technologists in our country and they have said
to me that their incentives on things like
artificial intelligence are all to go as fast as
possible because they're competing with each other
and China.
And so they said look, if all of us are just racing
at breakneck speed one of us is going to do
something really, really problematic at some point.
And they actually said to me, we could use some
guardrails from government on this.
So this is from the technologists themselves.
Now, again, our government is so behind the curve
that we can't even take them up on this request.
But that would change with me in the White House.
Henderson: You mentioned China.
As President how would you crack down on China using
technology as sort of a Big Brother?
They're monitoring minority populations with
technology today.
Yang: Yes, what they're doing to the Uyghur
population in their country is reprehensible
and we need to do a number of things.
Number one, we need to make sure that our
technology companies remain the world leaders
in artificial intelligence and right now we are in
danger of being leapfrogged by the Chinese
because they have more access to more data than
we do and the government is subsidizing their
computing infrastructure to the tune of tens of
billions of dollars, more than even our richest
So number one, as President I would partner
with our technology companies to make sure
that we can match the resources that the Chinese
are bringing.
Number two, we need to have a world data
organization analogous to the WTO to set standards
for how this technology is being used and how our
data is being used.
Right now China has developed its own
technology ecosystem that it is trying to export to
other parts of the world.
We have to make sure that they fail because we do
not want a world where everyone is using Chinese
And the way we make sure that they do not make
inroads is you set a global standard with the
EU and Japan and you let China know that they have
no choice but to play ball just the same way they did
with the WTO.
Henderson: You mentioned privacy.
California has recently enacted a law about the
use of the stuff that we all do online.
Should that be a federal law?
Yang: It should but I would go even further than
the California law.
Our data should be ours regardless of whether or
not we loan it to a technology company.
We should know what they're doing with it,
certainly if they're selling and reselling it.
We should benefit directly from any revenue they're
generating from our data.
I would make it so that we're getting data checks
in the mail.
And we need to be able to turn off the data if we
decide that we want to walk away.
Right now it's a black box, no one knows what is
going on and we just get notified when there is a
breach and we're like, oh I guess my password got
hacked and maybe I have to change all my passwords.
That's the way we're interacting with our data
privacy right now and it is not enough.
We have to let the technology companies know
that it's still our data and that is where the
federal government has to have a very firm hand.
Cummings: Julian Castro who recently departed from
the race has said that Iowa and New Hampshire
should no longer remain first in the primary
calendar because they are overwhelmingly white.
Do you agree that the calendar ought to change?
Yang: I love Iowans, I love New Hampshire voters.
I find everyone to be very smart and savvy and able
to make decisions based on something bigger and
broader than their own identity.
To me Iowa elevated Barack Obama.
I feel very confident that my campaign's case to
rewrite the rules of the 21st century to work for
us and our kids will resound loud and clear
here in Iowa.
I do not have a problem with our process.
Cummings: But you have spent an overwhelming
amount of time in New Hampshire, more than any
other candidate.
Is Iowa not as important in your calculus to the
Yang: I've been in both states 24 times, this is
my 24th trip here to Iowa.
And I'm a parent with two young boys.
I joke that it's like having kids where if you
visit one you have to visit the other.
(laughter) Yang: So certainly it's not a
situation where Iowans have not had the same
level of dedication and energy because history
will be made right here on February 3rd.
Henderson: You have been outspoken about the
Democratic National Committee's rules about
who can and cannot participate in the
Have the rules for the January 14th debates just
gotten out of hand?
Yang: What's fun is this will be airing on January
10th so we'll all find out what's going on.
But I don't have a problem with the DNC's rules
either as long as there are actually polls in the
Right now as we're having this conversation there
has not been a qualifying poll here in Iowa in
almost 50 days.
That is a long time in this campaign.
And so as long as there are actually polls in the
period I don't have a problem with the DNC's
But if there aren't polls in the period then I would
suggest that is not an appropriate standard to
hold campaigns to because how can you actually meet
a threshold if there are no polls?
Yepsen: I want to talk about your own career.
You're running for President of the United
Most Presidents have had some experience in public
office, most, not all.
Why didn't you start a political career the way
Theodore Roosevelt did, whom you say you admire?
He held several public offices before he became
Vice President.
Why not run for the U.S.
Why not some other office?
Yang: I spent the last seven years helping to
create several thousand jobs in the Midwest and
the South primarily and I saw that we had blasted
away 4 million manufacturing jobs leading
directly to Donald Trump becoming President and our
country unfortunately was scapegoating immigrants
for things that immigrants had very little to do
If I decided to bide my time and try and climb the
political ranks we would run out of time.
We have five to ten years before the robot trucks
hit our highways.
I have been to I-80 in Davenport and it says very
proudly that 5,000 people stop there every day.
When you have self-driving trucks how many people
will stop at I-80 and the other tens of thousands of
truck stops, motels and diners that rely upon
truckers getting out and having a meal?
I'm running for President not because I fantasized
about being President.
I'm running for President because I'm a parent and a
patriot, I see the future we are leaving to our
children, it is not something I'm willing to
accept and Iowans should not accept it either.
Cummings: Mr. Yang, we'll briefly switch to some of
the top issues of the campaign, health care
among them, and the debate over Medicare for all.
You have said that you agree with Medicare for
all, the Bernie Sanders' backed plan, in "spirit".
Can you explain what that means?
Yang: I believe we need universal health care in
this country but I would not legislate away private
Many Americans negotiated for their private
insurance plans with their employers and even gave up
wages to do so.
So the government needs to provide universal health
care and then demonstrate to the American people
that this is a better way to go than the private
insurance plans and outcompete them over time.
But our health care system is fundamentally not
working because it is not designed to actually make
us stronger and healthier.
It is designed to make maximum revenue and profit
for the drug companies, the private insurance
companies and the device companies and that is what
needs to change.
We have to get the incentives aligned with
our health and well-being and then we will actually
be able to make progress on the real issues in our
communities like the fact that people can't afford
drugs, the fact that we have record levels of
suicides and drug overdoses, the fact that
our life expectancy has declined for the last
three years, almost unprecedented in a
developed country.
We're spending 18% of our GDP on our health care
system and it is not actually working for us.
Henderson: The other big debate among the
candidates has been about free tuition for college
at a public institution.
There are private colleges all over Iowa that are
very worried about this.
Do they have good reason?
Yang: I think that free college is an appealing
idea but to me is not the right approach.
Now, should we be supporting public
education to a higher level?
Have costs become totally out of control for parents
and families who are sending their kids to
But emphasizing free college as the path
forward ignores the fact that two-thirds of
Americans will not graduate from a four year
university and that millions of Americans
instead should be heading towards vocational, trade,
and apprenticeship programs that right now
we're systematically underinvested in.
Only 6% of American high schoolers are in technical
or trade programs.
In Germany that is 59%.
Think about that gulf.
So saying hey, we're going to make college free for
everyone is sending the wrong message, is
subsidizing a group of Americans that in many
cases need the subsidy less than some others.
Instead we should be giving everyone $1000 a
month, which partially pays for your tuition if
you decide to pursue that, but it also helps you go
to trade school, helps you start a business, helps
you care for your loved ones.
This is a much more fair and even-handed investment
of our society's resources rather than just saying
everyone should go to college.
The other thing I want to point out is that 40% to
44% of recent college graduates are doing a job
that doesn't require a college degree and
subsidizing college education does not change
the underemployment rate for recent grads.
Cummings: All of your democratic counterparts in
this race agree that climate change is an
imminent threat.
But there are Americans who outright disbelieve
that climate change is real.
How do you convince the nation that this is an
important issue, as important as you and
others say it is?
Yang: Well, to me a lot of the reason why Americans
can't get unanimity or consensus on climate
change is that so many of us are just living
paycheck to paycheck and it's very hard if you
can't pay next month's rent for someone to say
hey, you need to worry about this problem that
may be years away.
The first thing we have to do is get the boot of
scarcity off of everyone's throat, say look, your
future is secure, your kids' future is secure.
And then we have to put a stop to this tug of war
that many Americans feel.
When you say we need to fight climate change do
you know what they hear?
They hear my prices are going to go up, my costs
are going to go up, my life is going to become
more inconvenient and the jobs are going to
We have to let people know, look, addressing
climate change can be a huge job creator and it
will not increase your costs, it actually can
bring them down over time if we invest in the right
But it begins with Americans feeling secure
in their own future because if you're not
secure in your own future then you're much less
likely to think about very huge future oriented
problems like climate change.
Yepsen: We've got just a minute left and let's talk
about entrepreneurship.
What should Iowans watching this program do
to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship in this
state or in their own children?
Yang: I'm a parent myself and so this is very near
and dear for me.
A lot of it is just preparing your kids to
become more resilient and feel secure in themselves
even if something does not work out.
So this could be sports, this could be getting out
in the neighborhood and trying to help an
organization in some way, but just letting our kids
know that they are sturdy and tough and that if
something goes wrong they can pick themselves up and
doing something that they actually care about rather
than something that they think is going to be
better for them in terms of the paycheck.
Those are the ways that we can actually prepare our
children for the next version of this economy.
Yepsen: Mr. Yang, we're out of time.
Thank you very much for being with us today.
Yang: Thank you, David, such a pleasure.
Yepsen: And we'll be back next week with another
edition of Iowa Press at our regular times, Friday
night at 7:30 and again at Noon on Sunday.
For all of us here at Iowa PBS, I'm David Yepsen.
Thanks for joining us today.
Funding for Iowa Press was provided by
Friends, the Iowa Public Television Foundation.
The Associated General Contractors of Iowa, the
public's partner in building Iowa's highway,
bridge and municipal utility infrastructure.
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Andrew Yang

12 Folder Collection
王惟惟 published on January 13, 2020
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