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Andrew Yang: 7 things you need to know about the Democratic presidential candidate

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By Roey Hadar

Gwen Ifill Fellow

Andrew Yang is one of two dozen Democrats running for president in 2020.

Yang is a former startup CEO turned presidential candidate who has sought to use his wealth to advance philanthropic causes. He founded Venture for America, a nonprofit that trains young college graduates to become entrepreneurs and sends them to revitalize smaller cities. His presidential campaign centers around an extensive policy platform.

Here are seven things you need to know about Yang.

  • Yang’s central idea is a universal basic income plan he calls a “freedom dividend.” Yang wants to give every single American adult $1,000 per month with no strings attached regardless of income or employment status. He proposes funding it by adding a Value-Added Tax (VAT) on the production of goods and services, similar to the one many countries in Europe have. Yang sees the proposal as an important way to fix income inequality and a way to offset the effects of the increasing loss of American jobs to automation.
  • Yang supports Medicare for all. He would like to reform the American healthcare system to not only shift toward single payer, but also ensure doctors earn a flat salary rather than billing specifically for the services they perform. Yang hopes that the reforms will make the healthcare system focus less on costs and more on innovating to provide better care.
  • Yang has a series of other unconventional proposals aimed at helping consumers. He would like to provide free financial counseling services, create a fund for abandoned malls to use their space for businesses, ban airlines from forcibly removing customers from overbooked flights, make the NCAA pay student-athletes and make U.S. Post Offices offer basic banking services as a way of limiting the influence of payday lenders.
  • He supports immigration reform, but has also called for securing the U.S.-Mexico border. He supports investing in border security at points of entry and increasing funding for customs enforcement, but also wants to pass a DREAM Act and develop a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants who have been here for an extended period of time.
  • Revamping local and national journalism is a part of his platform. In an effort to boost the declining trust in media organizations, Yang would like to create a nonpartisan commission to oversee a program of American Journalism Fellows for all 50 states, similar to his Venture for America program that he launched for entrepreneurship. He would also like to create a fund for local journalism, as well as a Media Responsibility Task Force that would effectively serve as a way of supporting media organizations and helping them fight disinformation.
  • Yang has disavowed support from white nationalists. While Yang has gained a lot of support through online communities, he has rejected unlikely support from white nationalists drawn to his universal basic income plan. Yang has unequivocally condemned their rhetoric, saying “I denounce and disavow hatred, bigotry, racism, white nationalism, anti-Semitism and the alt-right in all its many forms. Full stop. For anyone with this agenda, we do not want your support. We do not want your votes. You are not welcome in this campaign.”
  • He is the son of Taiwanese immigrants and graduated from Columbia Law School. Yang, who would be the first Asian-American president if elected, has said his Asian background informed his view of the world and gave him “a drive to relate to and help the underdog.” He also identifies his background as a way of presenting himself in contrast to President Donald Trump, saying, “I’m the opposite of Trump, as an Asian man who likes math.”