Andrew Yang reaching out to the White House on universal basic income

Andrew Yang reaching out to the White House on universal basic income
© Greg Nash

CNN contributor Andrew YangAndrew YangSolving the coronavirus economic downturn — good psychology makes for good politics and policy Andrew Yang nonprofit to dole out checks to 500 households Senate GOP mulls forgivable loans to businesses to halt layoffs, bankruptcies MORE, who made a universal basic income proposal the central issue of his former presidential campaign, said Tuesday that he had been in touch with the White House amid reports the administration is considering distributing checks to Americans to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus.

“I’m pleased to see the White House adopt our vision of putting money directly into the hands of hard-working Americans,” Yang said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate to see this development take place under the current circumstances, but this is exactly what Universal Basic Income is designed to do — offer a way to ensure that Americans can make ends meet when they need it most.”

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The proposal floated by Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Trump signs T coronavirus relief package Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing MORE differs greatly from Yang’s, which would involve a regular flat payment of $1,000 to all American adults regardless of economic conditions.

The White House and Senate proposals would involve a total of between one and three checks that varied based on the recipient’s personal circumstances. The government disbursed similar payments during the 2001 and 2007-08 recessions.

“You can think of this as something like business interruption payments for the American workers,” Mnuchin told reporters at the White House on Tuesday. 

Mnuchin said the White House is looking at "the next two weeks" in terms of a timetable.

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“I look forward to monitoring the developments of the White House as they consider methods of distribution, and both me and my team are eager to offer our support to ensure this process runs as smoothly as possible,” Yang said in a statement.

“My hope is that these checks extend beyond this period of dire need in order to prepare us for any future crises and the continued transformation of our economy and our society,” he added.

The hashtag "YangWasRight" trended on Twitter Tuesday afternoon.

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.