At KPU event, Andrew Yang discusses ‘universal basic income,’ while the election takes a backseat

Kogod School of Business, Asian American Student Union and AU College Democrats cosponsored the event

At KPU event, Andrew Yang discusses ‘universal basic income,’ while the election takes a backseat

At an online event on Oct. 29, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang spoke about the economy, parts of his platform that he ran on during the 2020 Democratic primaries and the 2020 election.

The Kennedy Political Union, Asian American Student Union, Kogod School of Business and AU College Democrats co-sponsored the event, which was moderated by Kogod professorial lecturer Caroline Bruckner. While the event was advertised by KPU as “a conversation about the election,” most of the interview focused on Yang’s ideas about the economy and “universal basic income,” a staple of his presidential campaign.

Calling it the “freedom dividend,” Yang campaigned on giving a no-strings-attached check of $1,000 a month to every qualifying U.S. citizen. 

“If you put 1,000 bucks a month into people's hands, any economist knows this, they're gonna turn around and spend it in their communities on food, fuel, rent, car repairs,” Yang said. “That money is just going to circulate back into the economy. It’s going to support jobs, support entrepreneurship.” 

In an interview with student media before the event, Yang was asked about an interview he did with CNBC over the summer, where he said businesses and corporations are in a position to potentially be the most effective help for the American people right now. While Yang said he “confesses to not recalling the quote,” he said that he still stands by his policies of a “universal basic income.”

“Right now, the best thing we could do is have a relief bill that included economic measures that put money directly in the hands of struggling families,” Yang said. 

In the conversation with Bruckner, Yang talked about the growing consensus among Americans on “universal basic income,” especially given the realities of the pandemic. 

“Right now during the pandemic, this is more vital than ever because you've lost millions of jobs,” Yang said. “Now 82 percent of Americans are for cash relief during the pandemic, and 55 percent are for universal basic income.”  However, according to Pew Research, most Americans are still against the idea. 

In April, Yang faced backlash due to an op-ed he wrote in the Washington Post, where he addressed racism surrounding the coronavirus. In the column, he encouraged Asian Americans to embrace “our American-ness in ways we never have before."

In response to that and their co-sponsorship of the event, AASU posted on Instagram a “statement of intentionality and transparency.”

“AASU is taking this event as an opportunity to attempt to influence & reshape the larger narrative through conversation with such a high-profile East Asian political figure,” AASU said in the post. 

Yang said that he hopes that more Asian Americans show up to vote this year. 

“If 50 to 60 percent of Asian Americans voted, we would swing a number of these swing states and the national political landscape would change for the better, where Asian Americans are concerned because people would pay much more attention to us and our votes,” Yang said. 

Yang also predicted a victory for Joe Biden’s campaign, who he has been campaigning for and helping to get out the vote. 

Biden’s fate currently depends on the results of key states like Nevada and Pennsylvania; he is ahead in both as of Friday morning. Pennsylvania, which would put Biden over the top with 20 electoral votes, is set to update ballot counts Friday.

Yang reminded students that the country may not know who the winner of the election is by the evening of Nov. 3, due to the impact of absentee and mail-in ballots in swing states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

“Bear down, be patient, know that it’s probably not going to be a one-night affair and probably going to unfold over a number of days,” Yang said. 

nheller@theeagleonline.com 

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