Sanders criticizes Yang's universal basic income proposal: 'People want to work'

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth Kamala Harris calls for new investigation into Kavanaugh allegations MORE (I-Vt.) says there’s “no question” that automation and artificial intelligence will have a fundamental impact on working families but he doesn't think fellow candidate Andrew YangAndrew YangCalifornia poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth The Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? Hillicon Valley: FCC approves Nexstar-Tribune merger | Top Democrat seeks answers on security of biometric data | 2020 Democrats take on Chinese IP theft | How Google, Facebook probes are testing century-old antitrust laws MORE's proposal of a universal basic income is necessarily the solution.

"This is an issue that is of enormous consequences for working people," Sanders told Hill.TV in response to the future impact of automation. "It is an issue that gotten nowhere near the kind of discussion that it needs." 

But in response to Yang's proposed universal basic income Sanders emphasized that "people want to work" and the desire to "be a productive member of society" is a "very deeply ingrained feeling that people have." 

"The challenge that we face is how do we use technology to improve the lives of working people," Sanders said. "So if you have a really terrible job, a boring job and we make your job better and we enable you to work 20 hours a week rather than 40 hours a week, it's not a bad thing...but it means to say you still need an income to live by, we can't cut your salaries in half." 

Sanders went on to tout his federal jobs guarantee as a more viable alternative.

"We take a very different approach from Mr. Yang and that is I believe in a jobs guarantee," he said. "There are an enormous amount of work that has to be done all the way from child care to health care to education to rebuilding our infrastructure to combating climate change to dealing with our growing elderly population."

Sanders said, under his administration, he would create more jobs, which would help combat job loss and other effects of automation.

"Bottom line is we cannot allow robotics technology, artificial intelligence to simply throw people out on the street," he told Hill.TV. 

Yang later responded to Sanders' comments on Twitter, saying the Vermont senator is ignoring several potential benefits of universal basic income.

"Bernie ignores the facts that money in our hands would 1) create hundreds of thousands of local jobs and 2) recognize and reward the nurturing work being done in our homes and communities every day. He also assumes that everyone wants to work for the government which isn’t true," he tweeted.

 

 

Yang, a former tech entrepreneur, has made a universal basic income the centerpiece of his campaign platform. The proposal seeks to counteract automation by providing a monthly $1,000 to every American.

The long-shot candidate told CBS’ “Face the Nation” over the weekend that such a plan would result in an economic stimulus.

“The money will go right into local main street businesses,” Yang said over a question over whether such a plan would disincentivize work. “It will help rejuvenate American main street businesses and give us all a path forward.”

—Tess Bonn