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Transcript: Andrew Yang on "Face the Nation," August 18, 2019

Yang defends universal basic income plan
Dem candidate Andrew Yang defends plan to give every American $1,000 a month 04:42

The following is a transcript of the interview with Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang that aired Sunday, August 18, 2019, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back with one of the 23 candidates running for the Democratic nomination. Andrew Yang is an entrepreneur who founded an organization that grants fellowships to college graduates interested in creating startups. Good morning and welcome to the broadcast.

ANDREW YANG: It's great to be here. Thanks for having me. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: How would you compete with China?

YANG: Well, certainly the tariffs and the trade war are the wrong way to go. We're now entering a very dangerous phase of potentially competitive devaluations. I was just in Iowa last week and the farmers and producers there are losing business there- they feel betrayed by President Trump. We need to curb some of the abuses on the Chinese side. But the trade war is leading the global economy in the wrong direction.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, what would you do differently?

YANG: Well, we have to do is we have to create a path forward for the Chinese that allows them to save face and say look we need to curb your theft of intellectual property rights and here's what we can do in return. But the problem right now is that there's no notice and there's this arbitrary nature of the tariffs where Donald Trump will say one thing one day and then come back the next week. And the Chinese at this point don't know how to negotiate in good faith. We have to create a path forward that'll work for both sides.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The jobless rate in this country is at a- a historic low. As you heard the- the White House make the case, but you are arguing that you see problems with income inequality in this country and that huge classes of jobs are going to disappear because people will be replaced by- by machines. What jobs are going away entirely?

YANG: Well Americans watching this right now are seeing their Main Street stores close as 30 percent of American malls and stores shut their doors forever. And the reason for that is that Amazon's absorbing 20 billion dollars in business every year and paying zero in taxes in return. So these economic changes helped get Donald Trump elected. We automated away four million manufacturing jobs in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, all of the swing states in the Midwest. And now that automation trend is going to come to retail, call centers, fast food and eventually truck drivers which is the most common job in 29 states in this country. This is the true economic transformation that we have to come together and address as a society as quickly as we can.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And part of your solution is to give everyone a thousand dollars a month. This is a universal basil- basic income. It's been supported by Mark Zuckerberg, other entrepreneurs. But how do you actually say that this is going to incentivize people to work? Isn't the American dream about working hard to achieve something not a government handout?

YANG: Well, Americans will work even harder when they get the resources in place to actually get ahead. This is the trickle up economy from our people, families and communities up. It will create over two million new jobs in our communities because the money will go right into local mainstream businesses, to car repairs, daycare expenses, Little League sign ups. And that's where the economic value needs to go in order to create jobs where people live and work.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you want to put in a 10 percent tax, a value added tax on transactions, on consumer purchases in order to pay for all this. You put it- it costs about two trillion dollars. But I'm wondering what example do you have of this actually working in another country? Like Saudi Arabia has this and you don't see them as a hub of innovation.

YANG: Well, if you look, Margaret, every other developed economy already has a mechanism just like this Europe, Canada, Asia. Everyone has figured out that you can't have a trillion dollar tech company like Amazon pay zero in taxes less than everyone who's watching this right now. That doesn't make any sense, and the American people know it. So this has already been figured out by every other developed economy--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You are talking about a value added tax?

YANG: --and we need to follow suit. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But in terms--

YANG: Yeah, that's exactly right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --but in terms of the Universal Basic Income, the thousand dollars you want to give every American?

YANG: So, if we look within our own country, Alaska's had a dividend of one to two thousand dollars per individual for almost 40 years. It was passed by a Republican governor. It's wildly popular. It's created thousands of jobs right there in Alaska. So, you don't even need to look abroad. They call it the "oil check" in Alaska. We're gonna call this the "tech check." It's going to help rejuvenate American mainstream businesses and give us all a path forward.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Andrew Yang, it's an interesting idea. Thank you for making the case. And we'll be watching your campaign. We'll be back in a moment.

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