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The following is a New Hampshire primary 2020
special presentation.
The Exchange Candidate Forums from NHPR in partnership
with New Hampshire PBS.
From New Hampshire Public Radio, I'm Laura Knoy,
and this is "The Exchange."
Today, we continue our series of presidential primary 2020
candidate forums and for this show on Thursday, November 7,
we're talking with democratic presidential candidate, Andrew
He's with us before a live audience in NHPR's Studio D.
Our questions today will include some of the many
that we receive from listeners.
So thank you for your contributions.
Also, I'm joined by NHPR's senior political reporter,
Josh Rogers.
He and I will both ask questions of Mr. Yang.
And Andrew Yang, it's nice to meet you.
Thank you for being here.
It's great to be here.
Thank you so much for having me.
I love being in New Hampshire.
Josh, let's start with you.
All right, Mr. Yang, let's start big.
What's your view of the role government
should play in our lives besides giving everyone
over the age of 18 $1,000 a month?
[yang chuckles]
I love this question.
To me, the government's responsibility
is to solve the biggest problems and address the biggest
needs that don't have any market incentive attached to them.
And I'm a parent.
I talk a lot about how my wife is at home with our two
boys, one of whom is autistic.
And there's obviously no market value attached to her work,
despite the fact that we know it's the most important work
that anyone's going to do.
The same is true with educating our children.
I believe the same is true with keeping us healthy, keeping
our water and air clean.
There aren't market incentives attached
to some of these things and that's
where the government has to fill in to address that need for all
of us.
So you've written that quote, "without dramatic change,
the best case scenario is a hyper stratified society
like something out of "The Hunger Games"
or Guatemala with an occasional mass shooting.
The worst case is widespread despair, violence,
and the utter collapse of our society and economy."
I'll let that sink in for a moment.
A survey that NHPR took of listeners
indicate that a lot of voters this year
are seeking a positive healing vision from our next president.
I mean, you see a pretty grim future without dramatic change.
Do you think that this is speaking to what voters want?
Well, I believe that that is the vision that we have to prevent.
It's one reason why I love being here in New Hampshire,
because you all control the future of the country.
If you direct the country towards a more positive vision
of our future, then we can make that vision of reality very,
very quickly.
This is the most extreme winner take
all economy in our history.
And we're now going through the greatest
economic transformation in our country's history, what
experts are calling the fourth Industrial Revolution.
In my view, it is the main reason
Donald Trump won that we automated away
4 million manufacturing jobs that were largely centered
in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa,
all the swing states he needed to win.
You all lost about 40,000 manufacturing jobs,
but you did it a bit earlier.
And that devastated many communities
in the northern part of New Hampshire.
That wave then ripped a hole in many, many Midwestern
And I spent seven years working in many of these communities,
so I saw it firsthand.
And what happened to those manufacturing jobs
is now shifting to retail jobs, call center jobs, truck driving
jobs, fast food jobs, and on and on through the economy.
If we do not evolve in the way we see ourselves,
and our work, and our value, then our very bleak future
does await.
But it does not need to be that way.
And that is the message of my campaign--
that New Hampshire can create a new way forward
for the rest of the country.
I mean, what's a timetable on that vision?
Well, the manufacturing job loss has already been happening.
And again, we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs
over the last 15 years or so.
And now 30% of your stores and malls
are closing in the next four years.
And that's not just in New Hampshire-- that is nationwide.
Now why is that?
It's because Amazon is soaking up $20 billion
in business every single year and paying zero in taxes
while doing it.
So the biggest misconception is that what I'm talking about,
this fourth Industrial Revolution,
is somehow in the distant future.
It is not.
It has been going on for 15, 20 years now,
and it's about to accelerate.
And when you look and you see your Main Street
store is closing forever, it doesn't seem like an automation
story because it's not like a robot went and took
that retail clerk's job.
But if you go to the Amazon fulfillment center that
is putting that store out of business,
it's wall to wall robots and machines.
But I mean, what is your view of basic human nature if we're
in such a precarious state that we
have let, in your estimation, the logic of markets
so dominate our culture that we're
facing this kind of apocalyptic vision?
What do you believe about the nature of Americans
and where we've let our politics go?
Most people who've heard about me and my campaign
know that I'm championing a freedom dividend of $1,000
a month for every American adult starting at age 18.
And when you hear that, it sounds
literally too good to be true.
But this is not my idea and it's not a new idea.
Martin Luther King championed it in the 1960s.
It is what he was fighting for when he who was
assassinated in 1968.
And it was so mainstream it passed
the US House of Representatives twice in 1971 under Nixon.
So when you're asking how have we gone to this point--
my wife and I have had the same conversation-- how
is it that what was a mainstream policy endorsed by 1,000
economists and passed the US House now
seems really radical, and dramatic, and extreme when
we're talking about it in 2019?
What happened between 1971 and now
is that we were all pushed to a point where
we started to confuse economic value and human value.
Where we said, hey, if the market thinks you're worthless,
then you are worthless.
It's why we have discussions around trying
to retrain coal miners and truck drivers to be coders.
Which makes no sense on the face of it,
but we're so brainwashed into thinking
that if you don't have economic value, you don't have value.
That we didn't contort ourselves in ridiculous ways
to try and push someone to a point where they still
have economic value, even when that doesn't make sense
on a human level or an economic level.
Let's get a little more clarity on the universal basic income,
Mr. Yang.
Again, $1,000 a month to every American adult
over the age of 18 up to 64--
could we just clarify that?
Up until your expiration, so it goes forever.
And it would be the greatest expansion of social security
benefits in our country's history, in large part
because we're facing a retiree crisis in this country, where
tens of millions of Americans will be
working until the day they die.
With the freedom dividend on top of social security
we can actually build an economy that works for Americans
to be able retire with dignity.
OK, so from age 18 up until death.
What about people who receive other government benefits,
besides social security, Mr. Yang-- food stamps, welfare
and so forth.
Would they also get those benefits plus the $1,000?
So the freedom dividend is universal and opt in.
And it stacks on top of things like Medicare, Medicaid, Social
Security, and housing benefits.
But if you do decide to opt into the freedom dividend,
then you're choosing to forego certain cash and cash
like benefits from food stamps, and heating oil subsidies,
and things that are meant to put cash in your hands
to buy certain things.
The goal is not to leave anyone worse off,
that's why it's opt in.
And I would not touch existing programs,
but you would make a choice.
I've talked to people who are on certain benefit programs now,
and they are very often are very anxious about losing
their benefits because they haven't filed something
correctly or they have a case manager that checks up on them.
There's a lot of stress associated with that.
And many of them would vastly prefer an unconditional cash
benefit that they could spend how they see fit.
We've got lots of questions from listeners on this
and I want to share a few with you, Mr. Yang.
James asks, what do you say to critics who say your freedom
dividend will cause inflation?
Ken sent us a similar question.
How would you keep cost of living increases,
especially rent increases, Ken says,
from swallowing up universal income?
Can you respond please to those concerns
that if you pump all this cash suddenly into the economy,
prices will naturally go up?
Of course.
I'd love to.
So you all remember voting for the $4 trillion
bailout of Wall Street and the financial crisis?
I don't.
None of us voted for it.
Does anyone remember anyone concerned about inflation
during that time?
And lo and behold, there was not meaningful inflation
despite the fact that our government printed $4 trillion
for the banks.
You put buying power into our hands
and it will make us stronger, healthier less stressed out,
improve our relationships, improve Main Street economies
here in New Hampshire and across the country.
There are three core causes of inflation
right now in American life.
Unfortunately, they're the ones that
make us the most miserable.
They are rent, education, and health care.
Those three things have gone up in price dramatically
over the last number of years.
What has not gone up?
Pretty much everything else.
Clothing, food, media, electronics, automobiles,
have either stayed the same in price, gotten cheaper,
or gotten better.
You don't think manufacturers, landlords would say,
hey, everybody's got an extra $1,000,
let's jack up the price a little bit, they'll never notice?
So for landlords-- if a landlord-- if you're
living in a rental right now, you
get an extra $1,000 a month, and the landlord is like,
you, I'm going to stick it to you,
I'm going to jack up your rent by $600,
then the first thing you do is you look up
and say, OK, let me see if other landlords are not
going to try and gouge me.
And then let's say a real landlord tried to gouge you,
if it reaches that extreme, then you'd look around
and say, well, there are four of us,
we're getting $1,000 a month, with $4,000 a month,
we can actually buy that fixer upper.
And then you can take upstairs, I'll take downstairs.
This actually makes us harder to exploit
and harder to push around for landlords or abusive employers.
This improves our bargaining power because $1,000 a month
is portable, it's passive, it goes with us wherever we want.
And if they push too hard, then we can walk.
A couple more questions on this and then
I'll throw it back to Josh.
People asked us also, Mr. Yang, why this has
no income eligibility attached.
They said why should Jeff Bezos or Oprah Winfrey
get $1,000 a month?
They don't seem especially needy.
So Alaska has had a dividend for almost 40 years now
where everyone in Alaska gets between $1,000 and $2,000
a year, no questions asked.
Because of the oil.
Because of the oil dividend.
And what I'm saying to you all here
in New Hampshire and everyone around the country
is that oil is to Alaska what technology is to the country.
That technology is the oil of the 21st century.
Our data is now worth more than oil.
Does anyone remember getting your data check in the mail?
Where did the data checks go?
Amazon, Facebook, Google, and the trillion dollar
tech companies that are paying zero or near-zero in taxes.
So what Alaska's done for the last 40 years to me
is a fantastic template.
And the richest Alaskan gets the oil dividend,
the poorest Alaskan gets it.
And what that does is it destigmatize,
it turns it not from a rich to poor transfer,
but a right of citizenship.
It makes it so we don't have to check up on you
and try and figure out how much you made this year
relative to last year.
And my funding mechanism would literally
generate billions of dollars from the Jeff
Bezos of the world.
And so if we try and send Jeff $1,000 a month just
to remind him he's an American, that's
immaterial in the scheme of things,
particularly when you weigh it against the fact
that we would make this a universal right.
Well, in an era of concern about exploding deficits and debt,
you know, it seems a legitimate question to say,
is it a waste of taxpayer money to give it
to super rich people?
Well, fundamentally, these are our resources.
And so Jeff still is an American.
But the problem we have with our deficit to me
is primarily a revenue problem.
Where if you have a trillion dollar tech company like Amazon
paying zero in taxes, then of course
you get to look around saying, OK,
like, where's the money going, where is the money going?
They're so powerful that they've managed
to obscure the fact that they're paying zero in taxes
while the rest of us are trying to figure out
how to pay the country's bills.
So if we put a mechanism in place
where you all, we all, are getting our tiny fair share
of every Amazon sale, every Google search, every robot
truck mile, every Facebook ad, and eventually,
every artificial intelligence unit of work,
we can generate hundreds of billions
of dollars in new revenue very, very quickly immediately.
Enough to pay for this dividend that
would flow through our communities
and build a trickle up economy from our people, our families,
and our communities.
So it's a revenue problem more than an expense problem.
And maybe we'll touch on this a little bit later
because I do want to hand it back
to Josh, but one last question.
You've talked a lot about this, $10,000 a year, $1,000 a month.
Inflation adjusted too, so it ratchets itself up
based upon what the prices do.
So as one of the sort of ways that you would help people
displaced by automation, that vision
that Josh painted earlier, but as you
know, Mr. Yang, $12,000 a year, not very much to live on.
So what other ideas do you have for reducing
the possible negative effects of automation that you see?
Well, this is an all hands on deck situation.
I am for education and retraining programs,
but the studies have clearly shown that they will
work on 0 to 20% of workers.
And if you go to the average truckstop
and you have a clipboard saying, hey, how would you
like to get retrained as a logistics specialist,
they'd be more likely to punch you in the face than sign
your clipboard, honestly?
You'd get like eight punches for every two signatures.
So we need to retrain, yes, but we
have to be realistic about what that means.
The big picture is that we have to actually reframe
what our economic measurements are
directing our energies towards.
So right now, what are the three measurements
we use for our economy?
Gross domestic product, stock market prices,
and headline unemployment rate.
And these three numbers are not the right numbers.
One joke I tell is, how many of you
were excited about GDP when you woke up this morning?
No one cares.
GDP is at record highs.
Also at record highs in this country--
suicides, drug overdoses, stress, financial insecurity,
student loan debt.
It's gotten so bad that our country's life expectancy
has declined for three years in a row.
First time that's happened in 100 years.
Last time it happened was the Spanish flu
of 1918, a global pandemic that killed millions.
And now it's declining because suicides and drug
overdoses have both overtaken vehicle deaths
as cause of death.
So if we actually changed the measuring sticks of our economy
to be our own health and life expectancy, our mental health
and freedom from substance abuse, clean air and clean
water, how our kids are doing, then you
end up with a whole different set of jobs and opportunities
for people that are pushing us in these directions,
and solving the real problems of our time.
I know we have some questions for you later about opioids,
but I want to turn it back to you, Josh.
I'm going to shift to some of your ideas
about how to reform our political system.
You know, on your website you say
you'd like to end Super PACs and drown out their influence,
but as you know, Super PAC has formed Math PAC to benefit you.
And when you were in New Hampshire last month,
you said you knew very little about it,
but you also said, quote, "I just hope
they're in line with my vision for the country,
and that they'll invest accordingly."
How do you square your position with that statement regarding
the Super PAC that's formed to benefit your campaign?
We know exactly what's going on, Josh,
where our government is now bought and paid
for by various corporate interests and lobbying
That's one reason why New Hampshire
is so important, is that you and you alone can flush the pipes.
My campaign raised $10 million last quarter
in increments of only $30 each.
So my fans are almost as cheap as Bernie's.
And none of that was corporate PAC money.
I'm here to try and solve the problems.
My flagship proposal is to give every American voter
100 democracy dollars that you could use towards campaigns
and candidates.
And that would flush out the lobbyist cash
by a factor of 8 to 1.
That's how we actually get our government back in our hands
responding to us instead of the money.
In the interim, we have this corrupt flawed system,
and we have to win so that we can actually
make the changes that the American people want
and deserve.
So you don't believe you can win while renouncing the Super
PAC obviously not under your control,
but others in the Democratic primary
have denounced Super PACs, some have kind of waffled on that.
But you think that you'll live with the system
and then flush upon election, but until then, you'll
hold your nose?
I'm running my campaign, and I'm very, very clear
on what we need to clean up about our corrupt system.
If other Americans look up and say they want to help, like,
I've no control over that.
I genuinely don't know much about any of the organizations
that are trying to help the campaign
but I'm looking at it saying, look,
we have this messed up system right now.
If someone wants to use that messed up system to help,
I'm just hopeful that they are aligned with my vision.
And as for other ways you hope to curb corruption,
you've talked about bumping up the pay of government
You've talked about making the presidency a job
that will pay $4 million a year.
I mean, how big a problem do you think
the revolving door is in terms of the way it
shapes our policies?
We know it's a terrible problem, where regulators just
check a box then go back to industry two years later
and nothing ever changes.
That's why we have to make being a regulator a one way street,
where you're not going to go back and work
for industry afterwards.
All right, well, coming up, we'll
talk about climate change, opioids, and a lot more.
Stay with us.
This is "The Exchange" on New Hampshire Public Radio.
[music playing]
You're watching Primary 2020, The Exchange Candidate
Forums from NHPR, produced in partnership with New Hampshire
This is "The Exchange."
I'm Laura Knoy.
Today, It's the latest in our Primary 2020 Candidate Forum
series, and we're talking with Democrat, Andrew Yang.
NHPR's senior political reporter, Josh Rogers,
is also with me.
And Mr. Yang, let's turn to climate change.
I know this is a big issue for you.
I looked at your plan.
It is long and detailed with ambitious goals
to get the country to a totally green economy by 2049.
What's the first step, because there are a lot of steps
in here?
The first step is we have to put a price on pollution.
One of the biggest problems in American life
is there are these externalities is
that companies are essentially pushing onto us, the public.
And then they take home the profits and we bear the costs.
So the first thing we have to do is
we have to actually put a price on carbon emissions.
So if you pollute, then you pay back
into the system that we can then invest in a green economy,
and provide an incentive for you to lower your emissions
as quickly as possible.
The second big move you make is you
stop subsidizing fossil fuel companies to tens of billions
of dollars that they've been enjoying for decades,
and move those subsidies and resources to wind,
and solar, and renewable energy sources
so that we can make progress in the right direction,
and start reducing our emissions to try
and reach zero emissions by 2049.
So step number one, carbon tax.
And I understand again, that the plan has a lot to it.
If I could ask you, though, about the carbon tax,
because that's become an important issue I
think in this presidential primary,
you start off with $40 a ton.
It eventually it gets up to $100 a ton.
How are you going to explain to the American people
that this won't hurt them, because as you know,
most low income people spend more of their budgets
on energy?
Well, this would be essentially zero imPACt
on the average consumer's energy bills.
The $40 a ton is literally for people
who are emitting thousands and thousands of tons every year,
unless the average American has a smokestack on their--
[yang laughs] on their roof.
But the cost is passed on to consumers.
And those costs will help make us greener over time.
And because you can't have zero cost of pollution--
and I was with Ned Reynolds, who's
an entrepreneur here in New Hampshire in Portsmouth,
and they've been installing solar panels
throughout the state and beyond.
They have hundreds of employees.
And that becomes a win-win-win for everyone,
because it obviously lowers emissions,
but it also saves you on your heating bills,
and makes the community stronger.
So that's the kind of move that we
can make that will make it so people's costs are
lower, not higher.
Last thing we want to do is have it
hit the middle class or people who are working every day.
If the US applied this pretty hefty carbon
tax, how much do you think, Mr. Yang, polluting industries
might say, forget the US, we're going
to build our factories overseas that don't have these taxes.
So the planet's net carbon might not
change, even though it wouldn't be emitted here.
Is that a concern, something you envisioned?
If you go up to 100 bucks a ton?
Well, the 100 bucks, it takes a while to get to.
But this is a massive issue, because 85% of the carbon
emissions are actually outside of our borders.
So even if we were to get ourselves under control very,
very quickly, the earth will continue
to warm because the 85% will continue to increase.
Right now, China is going to developing countries in Africa
and saying, hey, I've got a power plant for you,
it burns coal.
What do you think?
And then what does the African governments say?
Great, because they just want energy.
They don't care what it burns.
And so if we want to combat climate change globally,
we're going to have to be there at that table and say,
why not pass on the coal burning power plant,
and instead, take these solar panels,
take these wind turbines, and we will subsidize them
enough so that this is actually a better way to go?
That's the kind of conversation we
need to be having not just with our own industry,
but with societies around the world if we're actually
going to get our arms around this problem.
So how do you convince that African nation
to take American solar panels versus Chinese coal?
You speak to them in terms of costs.
Because frankly, they're not going to care about anything
but which is cheaper.
And so we in America subsidize things all the time
on an export basis.
We need to subsidize things that will actually
help make the planet more sustainable,
and make it so that it's a no brainer
for that African government to opt
towards solar rather than coal.
I want to ask you a couple of questions about nuclear power.
You do say in your plan nuclear needs
to be part of this equation, describing it
as a stop gap on the way to more reliance on other alternatives
like solar.
And you call, Mr. Yang, for $50 billion
in research and development for thorium-based molten salt
reactors and nuclear fusion reactors.
So to me, this sounds like a major investment, not
a stopgap.
We consume a lot of energy in this country.
And unless we want to have massive changes
in our way of life during this time period, in my view,
nuclear needs to be on the table.
And thorium-based reactors have incredible benefits
relative to the current technologies.
Thorium is not intrinsically radioactive.
It degrades much faster than uranium,
you can't make weapons out of it.
And so it has a wealth of potential
to help make us more sustainable more quickly.
To me, if you're in a crisis, which
we are in terms of climate change,
then you can't leave anything off the table.
And that to me includes nuclear and next generation nuclear.
Is that big investment though, $50 billion--
is that a stopgap?
I guess I want you to explain a little bit more what
you mean by stopgap.
Is nuclear part of the long term Andrew Yang
vision or the short term Andrew Yang vision?
It's part of the set of solutions
that we need to consider.
And anyone who looks at what we need
to do on climate change and energy consumption
will say that we need to do more of what's working.
And so if we successfully implement next generation
nuclear power plants, and they're working,
and they're not presenting a problem in terms
of waste disposal, then we would keep them.
If we have better alternatives like solar panels
are actually meeting our society's needs,
then that's the direction we would go.
But anyone who looks at this who says
we know exactly what the makeup is
going to be decades in the future actually doesn't know.
What we're all doing is pushing in this direction,
and then we're going to adopt more and invest more
in what works.
Go ahead, Josh, back to you.
I want to talk to you--
we've already talked about a bunch of big ideas
you have from the UBI, to your climate change plans,
to some of the reforms around our political system.
And you know, I've been to a lot of your events,
and I've talked to a bunch of voters,
who have checked you out.
And a lot of them--
I haven't seen you there, Josh.
You're sort of-- Well, you know, I'm very inconspicuous.
I guess so!
A lot of voters I've talked to have told me something
along the lines of this--
Andrew Young's got a lot of interesting ideas, you know,
gives kind of a heck of a Ted Talk.
But why should I believe he's capable of marshaling
the kind of movement that one would need
to put these ideas into place?
What do you say to a person who has those feelings?
Well, that's one reason why it's so tremendous being here
in New Hampshire, is that you all can, again,
take a vision the American people,
and have that vision become a revolution very, very quickly.
I want everyone to play out Andrew Yang inauguration 2021,
where everyone will know that the reason I won
is because I want to put more economic buying
power into our hands into the people's hands.
And that's the best way to improve our way of life.
And when voters ask, how are we going
to get these ideas across the finish line in Congress,
Democrats and progressives will be
thrilled to put a dividend in our hands,
because it makes children and families stronger,
improves our mental health, will improve our education
and graduation rates very, very dramatically.
But then Republicans and conservatives
will look up and say, wait a minute,
the only state that's done this is Alaska,
and that was a deep red conservative state.
And conservatives do not dislike buying
power and economic freedom in Americans hands.
What they dislike the most is a giant bureaucracy
making everyone's decisions.
So this is the kind of thing we can
100% get through Congress, because this
is historically bipartisan.
This is the kind of realignment of our political ideas
that we need to actually end the partisan gridlock in DC.
And it's going to take someone like me who
is coming at it from a new angle and approach that's
not left or right, but forward.
But so what about you, though, can catalyze this, I guess,
is my question?
What about you-- what in your experience
would lead people to believe that you can be the person
to make this happen?
Well, now as we're sitting here I'm
either fourth, fifth, or sixth in most national polls.
And I would suggest to you all that it's probably
more difficult to go from total anonymity
to fourth, fifth, or sixth the national polls than
from fourth, fifth, or sixth to number one.
The latter happens all of the time in politics, in sports,
in any endeavor.
And so we've already done the hard part.
Now is the easy part.
The easy part of letting people know
that we can rewrite the rules of the 21st century economy
to work for us, to work for you, to work for our families,
to work for our kids.
And that we actually don't have much of a choice,
because if we keep going down this road,
when artificial intelligence comes out of the lab and gets
rid of the 2 and 1/2 million call center workers who make 14
bucks an hour, when the robot trucks hit your highways here
in New Hampshire-- and that doesn't just hit the truckers,
that hits the truck stops, and motels,
and diners that rely upon the truckers getting out and having
a meal--
like, this is the future.
This is the present.
The people in New Hampshire are smart enough
to see what is going on.
It started with the manufacturing plants.
It's now on the Main Streets.
And we're going to stop it before it hits your highways.
I've never heard a candidate say the easy part is
going to be getting from the middle of the pack to the top.
So this is new.
It is the easy part, because you haven't had many candidates who
went from again, like, civilian to fourth, fifth, or sixth.
I mean, I've already outperformed
what, half a dozen sitting senators, governors,
It's because I understand what the real problems are
and I know how to solve them.
Well, one thing--
I've read your book, and I thought it was interesting,
and you said at one point describe your ideology is
one of pragmatism.
And you know one thing that the book seems a bit thin on
is the pragmatic part about how to actually get
these policies through.
Congress is a tough place to work.
I mean, have you ever tried to get people
to sponsor bills based on your ideas,
do it by referenda at the state level, even you know,
on a municipal level-- have you ever
tried to get any of these policies in place
beyond getting up on a stage and telling people
how great they are?
Well, I did start a multi-million dollar
national nonprofit from scratch that
then worked with various governments
throughout the country and I'm also
realistic about what is going on in DC.
I have been to DC and it is broken.
And it's going to take a lot to pull people together and start
solving the problems that frankly,
got Donald Trump into office.
I am the last person who would say
that I'm going to go and run DC like a business
because DC is not a business.
They're very, very different things.
It's actually much more analogous
to a nonprofit, which again, I founded and led
for seven years, where you have thousands of constituents,
and you have to galvanize energy around a vision,
and have people see that it's in their own self-interest
to head in the same direction.
So as your president, I'm going to have a whole team of people
that have very deep relationships and familiarity
with Capitol Hill.
Because we need to get things done and solve the problems.
And that's not going to happen, as you suggest,
through just one person.
It's going to be a team of people
that have a combination of both new ideas
and approaches, and the relationships,
and know how on Capitol Hill to get them into law.
When you launched Venture for America,
I believe the goal was to create 100,000 jobs by 2025,
and as far as I can tell, we're now at around
you know maybe a little bit more than 3,000 jobs created out
of that.
So you know, how do you account for that?
Well, one it's not 2025 yet.
True, but were you expecting it to be at 3,400 jobs right now?
But two, one of the reasons I'm running for president
is I realized that as proud as I am of all the work
we are doing at Venture for America, that we were pouring
water into a bathtub that has a giant hole ripped
in the bottom.
That our economy is evolving in unprecedented ways
that's making more and more of us economically extraneous.
And so the fact that Venture for America
created several thousand jobs, again,
I'm incredibly proud of it.
But I realize that the macro changes in front of us
were much more serious than even I'd realized in the beginning.
Mr. Yang, if you were elected president, as you know,
you'd be commander in chief, so let's
talk about foreign policy.
You said you favored diplomacy, working with allies.
How would you deal with those quote,
from your website, "those who would work against us?"
And by the way, who falls into that category?
Unfortunately, right now, the global world order
that America helped establish and has
been benefiting from for decades is now falling apart.
And to me, the order of events was
that we allowed our communities to fall apart,
and then we got Donald Trump as our president.
And then Donald Trump has become an erratic, and unpredictable,
and unreliable actor in world affairs.
And now other countries are looking up saying,
well, I guess at this point, we just
have to start looking out for ourselves
or we're not even sure America is going
to live up to its commitments.
So to reverse this, it's not going to be fast or easy.
The first thing we have to do has actually
become strong and whole at home.
Because you cannot project a sustained and reliable foreign
policy if you're falling apart and you don't have any kind
of unity or vision at home.
And then you have to go to your allies
and say, look, we're in it for the long haul.
We're sorry about that four year aberration
that was the Trump presidency.
But we turned it around in an awful hurry,
and we're going to be good to our commitments.
We know that the more we invest in diplomacy,
the less we have to invest in ammunition.
And that's just not me speaking, that's James Mattis,
the former Secretary of Defense.
And so the vision is to let the rest of the world
know that we are open for business
if that business is solving problems
through diplomacy, relationships,
and partnerships.
So there's the allies part.
But on your website, you do say, you
know, there are those who would quote, "work against us."
Who do you see is working against American interests
and how would you manage them as president?
We have a very, very tough competitive 21st century
economic environment.
I'm not someone who has a zero sum game where
if another country is getting richer,
that's somehow bad for us.
So the biggest threats I worry about in terms
of working against us are non-state actors,
loose nuclear material, climate change, cybersecurity,
artificial intelligence.
And one thing we don't talk enough about
is the proliferation of drones for military use.
There are now tens of thousands of military drones
in the hands of dozens of both state and non-state actors,
and these drones are much harder to defend
against than to use offensively.
If you can imagine a drone the size of a vacuum
cleaner with explosives attached to it or even radioactive
material or chemical warfare, can you
imagine trying to make an international,
like, let's say a military base fully protected
from that kind of threat?
It's very, very difficult. So these are the things
that I believe are the greatest threats of the 21st century.
And I believe you need a commander in chief
that actually understands those threats
and understands that there's going
to be a great deal of innovation necessary to keep Americans
safe in the days to come.
Well, speaking of non-state actors, the terrorist group,
ISIS, has already named a new leader
since the death of its former leader in a raid
by US forces, as I'm sure you know, Mr. Yang.
And there's still reportedly, thousands of ISIS
fighters in Syria and who knows where else.
What would a Yang administration approach be toward this threat?
Well, first, I would never abruptly pull our troops out
in a way that left our allies in the lurch
and allowed some of our enemies to get stronger.
The goal is to work with the governments
that we have relationships within that region
to contain suppress, defeat, and destroy ISIS over time.
Of course, they're going to have a new leader, because that's
the way any organization works.
You take one person out and then someone else
will rise in their place.
And so this is going to be an ongoing conflict.
I don't have any silver bullets or easy answers
except to continue to engage, and defeat,
and destroy over time.
Just broadly, Mr. Yang, how would you describe the bar
that you would set as president for sending American troops
into harm's way?
This is a sort of an existential question
that we've been discussing with all the candidates.
I have a three part test for sending our men and women
the armed forces into a foreign theater in harm's way.
Number one, there has to be a vital American national
interest at stake or the potential
to avert a clear humanitarian catastrophe.
So that needs to be one of those two things.
Number two, there needs to be a clearly defined frame,
where we can say very honestly, looking at our soldiers
in the eyes, and say, this is how long
you're going to be there, and when you're
going to be able to leave.
Not one of these open ended commitments, not