Andrew Yang's Policies, Explained: Entrepreneur Makes Tech Centerpiece of 2020 White House Bid

Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang has managed to differentiate himself from the dozen other Democratic candidates seeking their party's nomination by making technology a centerpiece of his platform.

Yang, an entrepreneur who has managed to outlast several career politicians on the campaign trail, entered the crowded Democratic primary back in February 2018 on a single proposal: universal basic income, or the "Freedom Dividend."

The proposal would give $1,000 in basic income each month to every American adult who chooses to participate, no strings attached. The measure, Yang says, is to help combat increasing job losses due to automation.

"Everyone knows I'm going to have won on the Freedom Dividend," Yang said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire in October, according to CBS.

Enrollment in the program would not be required, but anyone who chooses to take the monthly stipend would have to give up any other traditional welfare benefits from the federal government. The plan, which is estimated to cost about $2 trillion a year, would be paid for with a value-added tax of 10 percent on businesses, as well as from consolidating welfare programs.

As Yang has risen in the polls—he is one of only seven candidates, and the only person of color, to qualify for Thursday night's debate—he's released more unique policy proposals in which technology plays a key role.

On Monday, after backtracking slightly on his endorsement of Medicare for All, Yang released his own health care plan, titled "A New Way Forward." The measure commits to investing in "telehealth," where health-related information and services could be provided over the phone or internet to help alleviate a major problem: demand for physicians is outpacing the available supply.

"Telehealth is an effective approach for doctors across the country to provide care for patients in rural and underserved areas over the internet without needing a specific redundant license to practice medicine in the patient's state. Utilizing telehealth will enhance quality of life and reduce hospital visits, while curbing deaths from chronic diseases," the plan reads.

andrew yang first in the west event
Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang speaks at the "First in the West" event in Las Vegas on November 17. Bridget Bennett/AFP/Getty Images

Yang's views on regulating the tech industry are also vastly different from those of his 2020 rivals. He is the only candidate who thinks that internet users should have property rights to their data, meaning that people should be able to opt out of data collection from websites and have exclusive ownership over their personal information.

He also is the only Democrat to propose that tech giants like Google and Amazon break themselves up. Nearly all other candidates have either said that antitrust laws should be passed to break up the companies or that the federal government should decide which ones to dismantle.

As for election security, Yang advocates allowing people to cast ballots through mobile apps. Those apps would be protected by blockchain, the technology that records transactions for cybercurrencies such as bitcoin. Again, no other candidate has made such a proposal, and the idea is generally frowned upon by election security experts.

Yang is far from leading the Democratic field of candidates. The once little-known entrepreneur has been polling at around 4 percent support in the most recent national polls, but that is more than career lawmakers like Cory Booker or Tulsi Gabbard. A national poll conducted by Quinnipiac University earlier this month showed Yang with 4 percent support among likely Democratic voters.