Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles The following is a New Hampshire primary 2020 special presentation. The Exchange Candidate Forums from NHPR in partnership with New Hampshire PBS. From New Hampshire Public Radio, I'm Laura Knoy, and this is "The Exchange." Today, we continue our series of presidential primary 2020 candidate forums and for this show on Thursday, November 7, we're talking with democratic presidential candidate, Andrew Yang. He's with us before a live audience in NHPR's Studio D. [applause] Our questions today will include some of the many that we receive from listeners. So thank you for your contributions. Also, I'm joined by NHPR's senior political reporter, Josh Rogers. He and I will both ask questions of Mr. Yang. And Andrew Yang, it's nice to meet you. Thank you for being here. It's great to be here. Thank you so much for having me. I love being in New Hampshire. Josh, let's start with you. All right, Mr. Yang, let's start big. What's your view of the role government should play in our lives besides giving everyone over the age of 18 $1,000 a month? [yang chuckles] I love this question. To me, the government's responsibility is to solve the biggest problems and address the biggest needs that don't have any market incentive attached to them. And I'm a parent. I talk a lot about how my wife is at home with our two boys, one of whom is autistic. And there's obviously no market value attached to her work, despite the fact that we know it's the most important work that anyone's going to do. The same is true with educating our children. I believe the same is true with keeping us healthy, keeping our water and air clean. There aren't market incentives attached to some of these things and that's where the government has to fill in to address that need for all of us. So you've written that quote, "without dramatic change, the best case scenario is a hyper stratified society like something out of "The Hunger Games" or Guatemala with an occasional mass shooting. The worst case is widespread despair, violence, and the utter collapse of our society and economy." I'll let that sink in for a moment. A survey that NHPR took of listeners indicate that a lot of voters this year are seeking a positive healing vision from our next president. I mean, you see a pretty grim future without dramatic change. Do you think that this is speaking to what voters want? Well, I believe that that is the vision that we have to prevent. It's one reason why I love being here in New Hampshire, because you all control the future of the country. If you direct the country towards a more positive vision of our future, then we can make that vision of reality very, very quickly. This is the most extreme winner take all economy in our history. And we're now going through the greatest economic transformation in our country's history, what experts are calling the fourth Industrial Revolution. In my view, it is the main reason Donald Trump won that we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs that were largely centered in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, all the swing states he needed to win. You all lost about 40,000 manufacturing jobs, but you did it a bit earlier. And that devastated many communities in the northern part of New Hampshire. That wave then ripped a hole in many, many Midwestern communities. And I spent seven years working in many of these communities, so I saw it firsthand. And what happened to those manufacturing jobs is now shifting to retail jobs, call center jobs, truck driving jobs, fast food jobs, and on and on through the economy. If we do not evolve in the way we see ourselves, and our work, and our value, then our very bleak future does await. But it does not need to be that way. And that is the message of my campaign-- that New Hampshire can create a new way forward for the rest of the country. I mean, what's a timetable on that vision? Well, the manufacturing job loss has already been happening. And again, we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs over the last 15 years or so. And now 30% of your stores and malls are closing in the next four years. And that's not just in New Hampshire-- that is nationwide. Now why is that? It's because Amazon is soaking up $20 billion in business every single year and paying zero in taxes while doing it. So the biggest misconception is that what I'm talking about, this fourth Industrial Revolution, is somehow in the distant future. It is not. It has been going on for 15, 20 years now, and it's about to accelerate. And when you look and you see your Main Street store is closing forever, it doesn't seem like an automation story because it's not like a robot went and took that retail clerk's job. But if you go to the Amazon fulfillment center that is putting that store out of business, it's wall to wall robots and machines. But I mean, what is your view of basic human nature if we're in such a precarious state that we have let, in your estimation, the logic of markets so dominate our culture that we're facing this kind of apocalyptic vision? What do you believe about the nature of Americans and where we've let our politics go? Most people who've heard about me and my campaign know that I'm championing a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month for every American adult starting at age 18. And when you hear that, it sounds literally too good to be true. But this is not my idea and it's not a new idea. Martin Luther King championed it in the 1960s. It is what he was fighting for when he who was assassinated in 1968. And it was so mainstream it passed the US House of Representatives twice in 1971 under Nixon. So when you're asking how have we gone to this point-- my wife and I have had the same conversation-- how is it that what was a mainstream policy endorsed by 1,000 economists and passed the US House now seems really radical, and dramatic, and extreme when we're talking about it in 2019? What happened between 1971 and now is that we were all pushed to a point where we started to confuse economic value and human value. Where we said, hey, if the market thinks you're worthless, then you are worthless. It's why we have discussions around trying to retrain coal miners and truck drivers to be coders. Which makes no sense on the face of it, but we're so brainwashed into thinking that if you don't have economic value, you don't have value. That we didn't contort ourselves in ridiculous ways to try and push someone to a point where they still have economic value, even when that doesn't make sense on a human level or an economic level. Let's get a little more clarity on the universal basic income, Mr. Yang. Again, $1,000 a month to every American adult over the age of 18 up to 64-- could we just clarify that? Up until your expiration, so it goes forever. And it would be the greatest expansion of social security benefits in our country's history, in large part because we're facing a retiree crisis in this country, where tens of millions of Americans will be working until the day they die. With the freedom dividend on top of social security we can actually build an economy that works for Americans to be able retire with dignity. OK, so from age 18 up until death. What about people who receive other government benefits, besides social security, Mr. Yang-- food stamps, welfare and so forth. Would they also get those benefits plus the $1,000? So the freedom dividend is universal and opt in. And it stacks on top of things like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and housing benefits. But if you do decide to opt into the freedom dividend, then you're choosing to forego certain cash and cash like benefits from food stamps, and heating oil subsidies, and things that are meant to put cash in your hands to buy certain things. The goal is not to leave anyone worse off, that's why it's opt in. And I would not touch existing programs, but you would make a choice. I've talked to people who are on certain benefit programs now, and they are very often are very anxious about losing their benefits because they haven't filed something correctly or they have a case manager that checks up on them. There's a lot of stress associated with that. And many of them would vastly prefer an unconditional cash benefit that they could spend how they see fit. We've got lots of questions from listeners on this and I want to share a few with you, Mr. Yang. James asks, what do you say to critics who say your freedom dividend will cause inflation? Ken sent us a similar question. How would you keep cost of living increases, especially rent increases, Ken says, from swallowing up universal income? Can you respond please to those concerns that if you pump all this cash suddenly into the economy, prices will naturally go up? Of course. I'd love to. So you all remember voting for the $4 trillion bailout of Wall Street and the financial crisis? I don't. None of us voted for it. Does anyone remember anyone concerned about inflation during that time? And lo and behold, there was not meaningful inflation despite the fact that our government printed $4 trillion for the banks. You put buying power into our hands and it will make us stronger, healthier less stressed out, improve our relationships, improve Main Street economies here in New Hampshire and across the country. There are three core causes of inflation right now in American life. Unfortunately, they're the ones that make us the most miserable. They are rent, education, and health care. Those three things have gone up in price dramatically over the last number of years. What has not gone up? Pretty much everything else. Clothing, food, media, electronics, automobiles, have either stayed the same in price, gotten cheaper, or gotten better. You don't think manufacturers, landlords would say, hey, everybody's got an extra $1,000, let's jack up the price a little bit, they'll never notice? So for landlords-- if a landlord-- if you're living in a rental right now, you get an extra $1,000 a month, and the landlord is like, you, I'm going to stick it to you, I'm going to jack up your rent by $600, then the first thing you do is you look up and say, OK, let me see if other landlords are not going to try and gouge me. And then let's say a real landlord tried to gouge you, if it reaches that extreme, then you'd look around and say, well, there are four of us, we're getting $1,000 a month, with $4,000 a month, we can actually buy that fixer upper. And then you can take upstairs, I'll take downstairs. This actually makes us harder to exploit and harder to push around for landlords or abusive employers. This improves our bargaining power because $1,000 a month is portable, it's passive, it goes with us wherever we want. And if they push too hard, then we can walk. A couple more questions on this and then I'll throw it back to Josh. People asked us also, Mr. Yang, why this has no income eligibility attached.