As a presidential candidate, Andrew Yang ran on a promise to provide a universal basic income of $1,000 a month for every American adult. After Congress gave many a direct infusion of $1,200 to offset some of the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, he's renewing calls for a more permanent universal income.
Yang told Boston Public Radio on Tuesday he hopes Congress will provide recurring payments to Americans for at least the duration of the crisis, as many are facing significant costs associated with unemployment and health insurance coverage.
"Tens of millions of Americans got this $1,200 check, and they liked it, they found it made them feel more stable, more secure in their future," he said. "You can't undo that, you can't somehow say, 'Hey money in your hands is going to change your personality in a negative way or diminish your work ethic.'"
He said with the CARES Act passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump, a significant amount of the stimulus package goes to corporations with little oversight and a universal basic income would be a more direct way to get money to the people who need it.
"One of the reasons cash in our hands is the most direct and effective way, is because we know how were going to spend it: on groceries and heating oil and rent checks," he said. "The fact that there's going to be a ton of graft and corruption, and loss and waste of these stimulus funds, is brutal to accept when there's so many Americans suffering."
Andrew Yang is founder of Humanity Forward and a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.