Watch CBS News

Andrew Yang On Freedom Dividend, Health Care, Decriminalizing Opiates

CONCORD, NH (CBS) - Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang took some time while campaigning in Concord, New Hampshire to have a one-on-one interview with WBZ-TV's Liam Martin to discuss everything from his Freedom Dividend to being a father on the campaign trail.

Liam Martin: "Before this run, you were a corporate lawyer, the CEO of a test prep company and then you founded a program called Venture for America to help aspiring entrepreneurs. Why are you running for president?"

Andrew Yang: "I am running for president to wake people up to the fact that we are going through the greatest economic change in American history. The fourth industrial revolution. It led to Donald Trump being our president. We automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. And now we're doing the same thing to millions of retail jobs, call center jobs, fast food jobs, and truck driving jobs and on and on through the economy. We need to adjust to that and solve the problems that got Donald Trump elected in the first place."

Martin: "Your signature proposal in this race is universal basic income and you call it the Freedom Dividend. It's $1000 dollars every month for everyone in the U.S. It would cost, Bridgewater Associates says about $4 trillion how do you pay for that?"

Yang: "It's a little bit less than that. So the way we pay for it is right now you have Amazon, a trillion dollar Tech Company, closing 30% of America's stores and malls and paying zero in taxes while doing it. So if we give the American people our tiny, tiny, fair share of every Amazon sale, every Google search, every Facebook ad, every robot truck mile, we generate hundreds of billions of dollars in new revenue that would help pay for a dividend. A study just came out that said our data is now worth more than oil. And how much of that value are we seeing? None of it, while our data gets sold and resold by the tech companies. If we put the value into our hands, we can build a trickle up economy very, very quickly."

Andrew Yang
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang (WBZ-TV)

Martin: "Under this proposal, everyone would get $1000 a month, from the millionaire to the working mom making $40,000 a year. Does it make more sense to have it as a graduated freedom dividend where the mom making $40,000 a year gets more than the millionaire?"

Yang: "There is one state that has a dividend in place for almost 40 years where everyone in that state gets between one and two thousand dollars a year no questions asked and that state is Alaska. They fund it with oil money and everyone gets it from the richest Alaskan to the poorest. In our case, if we give it to everyone, it is going to become universally popular, there is no stigma attached to it, there is no I'm getting it and you're not getting it. It also removes all of the administration and reporting requirement just like in Alaska because there is no incentive to under report your income if everyone is getting it."

Martin: "But isn't giving Bill Gates an extra $1000 a month a waste of money?"

Yang: "Well my plan would get millions, maybe even hundreds of millions from the Bill Gates of the world so if we try to send them $1000 a month to remind them they are American its overall a win."

Martin: "People have been so focused on this idea of the universal basic income they might not know where you stand on some of the other major issues in 2020. Where do you stand on Medicare for All?"

Yang: "I think we need to move toward a Medicare for All system but I would not get rid of private insurance. The goal has to be to try to out compete private insurers, and I think even if we do everything right there will still be a role for private insurance in the market."

Martin: "You've argued for legalizing marijuana nationally and decriminalizing some drugs, is that all drugs?"

Yang: "It's decriminalizing addictive opiates because right now we have a plague in this country, eight Americans are dying every hour of opiate overdoses and the goal has to be to try and bring both the abuse and overdose rates down. When you look around the world when they have decriminalized these drugs for personal use, so if you're a dealer you go to jail but if you're an addict and we catch you with the drugs, we don't send you to jail we send you to counseling and treatment and this brings down both overdose rates and abuse rates over time."

Martin: "You have no formal foreign policy experience. We are in a time right now where the situation in Syria, North Korea, what's going on with Iran where Americans are tuned in to foreign policy at the moment. How do you persuade the voters that you have the experience necessary, and that you're prepared to be the Commander in Chief?"

Yang: "Well first, a lot of the threats we're facing in the 21st century are going to be different than the threats we faced in the last century. So that includes cyber security, artificial intelligence, drones, loose nuclear materials, climate change, non-state actors and we need a Commander in Chief that actually understands the challenges of this era. I believe I can help catch us up because right now our government is decades behind the curve on issues like technology, cyber security, AI and unfortunately even climate change."

Martin: "You've been open on the campaign trail and I'm going to get to a personal question here, you have a son with autism, you have two young sons. I want to ask you a question that probably isn't asked very often of male candidates. How do you balance your job as a father, and caring for your kids, and your wife, with the constant travel, the stress of being a candidate for office? How are you balancing that?"

Yang: "Occasionally someone thanks me on the trail for running and I say thank my wife because I am just very, very fortunate to have superwoman as a partner who has been taking on chin where our boys are concerned. I miss them terribly when I'm on the road. They, unfortunately, are getting kind of used to me not being around. It's very hard but we have a lot of family members that have been spending time with our boys, my mom, her mom, you know cousins. Everyone has been supporting the entire family through this time."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.