Yang announces universal basic income pilot program at debate

Yang announces universal basic income pilot program at debate
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Democratic presidential candidate Andrew YangAndrew YangHarris posts video asking baby if she'll run for president one day Krystal Ball: What Harris's exit means for the other 2020 candidates The Hill's 12:30 Report: Impeachment fight shifts to House Judiciary MORE announced at Thursday’s primary debate that his campaign will use funds raised from his supporters for a pilot program meant to resemble his universal basic income proposal.

Under the Freedom Dividend Pilot Program, at least 10 American families will receive $1,000 a month, or $12,000 a year.

The announcement comes after he had earlier promised he would unveil a surprise at the debate.

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“When you donate money to a presidential campaign, what happens? The politician spends the money on TV ads and consultants and you hope it works out,” Yang said during his opening statement. “It’s time to trust ourselves more than our politicians. That’s why I’m going to do something unprecedented tonight.”

He added: “This is how we will get our country working for us again — the American people.” 

Participants can enter the giveaway on Yang’s campaign website. Three people are already receiving the dividend, and his campaign said in a news release that they are “already noting the benefits of having an extra $1,000 per month — from being able to make home improvements, to fixing a car needed for work, to affording medical care for family members.”

“The campaign is excited to work together with our supporters to help create more stories about what the Freedom Dividend means for American families. It will enable and empower citizens to pay their bills, switch jobs, take care of loved ones, and plan for the future,” campaign manager Zach Graumann said in the Thursday night release.

In the days leading up to the debate, questions surrounded Yang's “big” and “unprecedented” mystery promise, spurring theories on what the proposal would be. The #YangsDebateSurprise hashtag was trending on Twitter in the hours before 10 White House hopefuls took the debate stage in Houston.

Yang has continued to gain attention and has seen higher polling numbers in recent weeks. His campaign has centered on a promise to give every American adult $1,000 a month and has defended the proposal as a response to rising automation.