Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang said Tuesday that he’d like to sit down with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., to explain the Freedom Dividend, the universal basic income proposal that’s the cornerstone of his campaign for the White House.
"I haven’t sat down with Alexandria. It could just be politics. I’m very optimistic that if she understood the Freedom Dividend, she’d be excited about it," Yang told Fox News after a campaign event at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H. "She’s demonstrated openness to universal basic income in the past and I think she’ll be very excited when she sees what it would mean in real life.”
The tech entrepreneur’s comments come after Ocasio-Cortez – a high profile lawmaker and a member of the so-called "Squad" of four progressive female freshman Democratic lawmakers – recently criticized universal basic income as “very regressive.”
The congresswoman – who has endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for the Democratic nomination – made her comments in a YouTube video first reported by the news aggregator Inquisitr. Ocasio-Cortez, without specifically mentioning Yang, said “one of the most popular UBI proposals is acting like a trojan horse.”
Yang, once the longest of long-shots for the nomination, has seen his campaign soar this spring and summer thanks in large part to interest in his Freedom Dividend. The plan would provide $1,000 per month to each American over the age of 18 in order to combat the effect of job losses brought about by advancements in automation and artificial intelligence. Yang says he’d pay for his Freedom Dividend by implementing a value-added tax.
Yang's plan has faced some criticism, with some saying that the $1,000 per month dividend would prevent people qualifying for government assistance. But Yang supporters argue that’s also true of the federal jobs guarantee and $15 minimum wage, both of which have been proposed by Sanders.
Other critics have also suggested that people collecting Supplemental Security Income would lose those benefits if they opted into Yang’s Freedom Dividend.