Democratic candidate Andrew Yang 'peeling off' Trump supporters with $1,000 universal income pledge

Nick Allen

For supporters of Donald Trump now disillusioned with his actions an improbable figure is emerging on the Left. Andrew Yang, a candidate for the Democrat presidential nomination in 2020, has received increasing support from disenfranchised working class voters in key “rust belt” states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.

The radical central tenet of Mr Yang's platform is the “Freedom Dividend” which would provide a universal basic income of $1,000 a month to every American adult, much of it funded by taxing large businesses like Amazon, Google and Facebook.

“I'm peeling off Trump supporters,” Mr Yang told The Telegraph in an interview ahead of the next Democrat debate.

“There were many people who voted for Donald Trump because they believed his solutions, but his solutions were garbage and nonsense.

"They're attracted to me because I’m talking about the same problems. I’m running to solve problems that got Trump elected. It means, if I’m the Democrat nominee, we will win, and most Democrats want a nominee who's going to win."

Andrew Yang has pledged an annual universal basic income Credit: REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl


People who voted for Mr Trump in 2016 have increasingly been turning up at Mr Yang’s rallies, replacing their MAGA hats with ones that say ”MATH" - which stands for ”Make America Think Harder" - ”Yang Gang".

According to polls Mr Yang, along with Bernie Sanders, is the the only Democrat who more than 10 per cent of Trump supporters say they would consider voting for.

Like the president he is not averse to mixing it. Mr Yang recently called Mr Trump ”fat" and a ”slob" and asked: ”What could Donald Trump possibly be better than me at? An eating contest?"

His crossover appeal is also shown by his standing in Fox News polls, which have him higher than other surveys. In a recent one he ranked fifth behind only Joe Biden, Mr Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.

As the massive Democrat field was cut in half to 10 candidates for the next debate on September 12 Mr Yang qualified with ease. More than 200,000 people have donated to his campaign.

The former technology entrepreneur also has the endorsement of Elon Musk. Mr Yang paints an apocalyptic picture of the future - something along the lines of Terminator or The Hunger Games - unless action is taken to alleviate the inevitable rise of robots.

He said: “We're going to lose to automation and AI (artificial intelligence) 20 to 40 per cent of American jobs in 10 to 20 years. This is essentially a consensus.

Democratic 2020 US presidential candidates pose together before a debate Credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

You can see it happening right now. “People who understand technology know my concerns around automation are coming true as we speak. They see it in real time.”

His answer is the safety net of a universal basic Income for all citizens.

To fund it, Mr Yang proposes a 10 per cent value-added tax on business transactions.

That would raise about $800 billion of the estimated annual $2 trillion cost, hitting the massive low-tax paying technology companies harder than most. "Companies like Amazon pay very little, or in some cases no, federal income taxes. The technology companies will pay much more into the system," he said.

According to some estimates spreading the money around would end up growing the US economy by $2.5 trillion by 2025.

Mr Yang rejected the assertion that many people might spend their $1,000 a moth on drink or drugs. He said experiments in Finland and Alaska showed they were much more likely to spend it on groceries. And the amount wasn't enough for people to give up work.