Preet Bharara: Andrew Yang, welcome to the show.
Andrew Yang: Thanks for having me Preet Bharara, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Preet Bharara: So you’re running for president.
Andrew Yang: Yes I am. I’m doing quite well by many accounts.
Preet Bharara: You are. Lots of interest in your campaign. You’ve been able to raise a lot of money. But can I ask you one, sort of, first level background question?
Andrew Yang: Of course.
Preet Bharara: Explain a term to us. What is the Yang Gang?
Andrew Yang: The Yang Gang is the moniker for people that support my presidential campaign on the internet in particular. So there’s a hashtag Yang Gang, and if you search that hashtag you’ll see a multitude of memes and people trying to educate others about some of the ideas behind my campaign.
Preet Bharara: Very lucky for you that Yang rhymes with something like gang.
Andrew Yang: I know.
Preet Bharara: You could’ve been named Bharara. Bharara Gharara doesn’t really work.
Andrew Yang: No, it would be a stretch.
Preet Bharara: Which is why I’m not running.
Andrew Yang: I’m sure there are a lot of people that want you to run even without any clever rhyme.
Preet Bharara: I was not born in this country, so I cannot. But you know what I can do? You know what you don’t have to be a natural born citizen to do? Host a podcast. It’s everyone in America wherever you’ve come from. Norway or an S hole country you can host a podcast, so that’s what I’m doing.
Preet Bharara: So, a lot of people know who you are, but there are folks-
Andrew Yang: Who do not.
Preet Bharara: Who do not. And so who the hell are you?
Andrew Yang: You know, I think you’re background and mine are not that dissimilar. I’m the son of immigrants who met in graduate school at Berkeley. I was born in Schenectady New York. My father was a physicist for GE and IBM, so I thought everyone’s dad was a PhD when I was a kid. I went to Brown and Columbia for law school like you did. Was an unhappy corporate attorney for five months, and then left to start an ill fated dot com business. Then worked in startups and businesses for ten years or so.
Andrew Yang: Really the biggest sharp left turn if you will, my education company grew to become number on in U.S. and was acquired in 2009, and that was the wake of the financial crisis which was a very bleak time. I had literally been training kids at Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan, and McKinsey and that thought the problem was that people who’d gone to fancy schools all went to Wall Street and became financial wizards, tech wizards, or management consultants. And so I though well what they should be doing is starting businesses in places like Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore, St. Louis, Birmingham. And so I started an organization to help train entrepreneurs in those environments, and it was really during those seven years that I directly encountered the aftermath of automation of jobs in the Midwest and the South.
Andrew Yang: And I’m certain that the reason why Donald Trumps our president today is that we automated away four million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. So imagine being the entrepreneur who helped create several thousand jobs in Midwest and the South who was being celebrated for it, and seeing that the tidal wave was heading the other direction. So that’s how I came to run for president.
Preet Bharara: That’s a nice summary and history of the arc of your career, but I want to go back to childhood a little bit. You’ve been very open about your childhood. You were one of very few Asian Americans where you grew up.
Andrew Yang: Yes.
Preet Bharara: And you talk about being bullied.
Andrew Yang: Yeah.
Preet Bharara: That’s not a term that was really used back when you and I were young.
Andrew Yang: No, it was not.
Preet Bharara: Because I was bullied. I really haven’t talked about this much, but I’m interested why you tried to fight back. And what you thought was effective about, and how it’s made you the person you are today.
Andrew Yang: So I was of the lone Asian kids in my school, and I’d also skipped a grade. So imagine being-
Preet Bharara: You were one of those.
Andrew Yang: Smaller, scrawnier.
Preet Bharara: I bet I was scrawnier than you were.
Andrew Yang: Wow, we should bust out the photos and compare.
Preet Bharara: Thank god this is audio.
Andrew Yang: So this was the 80s. The cultural inputs at time were like Long Duk Dong of Sixteen Candles.
Speaker 1: What’s happening hot stuff?
Andrew Yang: And Platoon, like, that’s the way the gook laughs. There was this one kid who would just say that to me all the time that that’s the way the gook laughs, and so as the skinny Asian kid getting picked on I felt like well I guess my choices are either just take it or fight back. So I decided to fight back, and I would regularly lose those fights because I was-
Preet Bharara: Fight back, you mean physically?
Andrew Yang: Yeah physically. I would just be like, “All right, I guess it’s time to fight again.” And so then I would fight and lose.
Preet Bharara: You get your butt kicked.
Andrew Yang: Yeah, I get my kicked. Yeah, I got my butt kicked a lot.
Preet Bharara: How often?
Andrew Yang: How often did I fight and lose?
Preet Bharara: I would like to know.
Andrew Yang: It wasn’t a regular occurrence. There’d be a month where it would happen several times.
Preet Bharara: What age group was this?
Andrew Yang: From approximately elementary school through junior high.
Preet Bharara: You were okay at Columbia Law School.
Andrew Yang: At Columbia Law School I regularly engaged in fisticuffs. No.
Preet Bharara: Okay.
Andrew Yang: Through junior high.
Preet Bharara: Kidding aside, did the teachers help you?
Andrew Yang: You know and this is one of the things I’m very confused about Preet Bharara because I remember when I was growing up, probably the same as you, all this chaos ensued between kids in middle school or junior high, I don’t remember teacher intervening very often.
Preet Bharara: I don’t.
Andrew Yang: Yeah, you don’t remember.
Preet Bharara: There were times. I remember once being on a bus on a field trip going to the planetarium. I really don’t talk about this touch, but I was just very moved by the fact that you talk about it. And here you are running for the president of the United States, if you can do it then I can talk about it a little bit also. And I remember being on this bus, and it was like an hour long ride. There were kids who were spitting at me, and smacking me on the back of the head, and calling me names. Some of which were derivative of the N word because I’m brown. And all I wanted was for a teacher to tell them to stop, and there was a teacher on the bus didn’t do anything. Isn’t that strange?
Andrew Yang: It doesn’t strike me as strange having grown up in a similar era, and so to me one of the big question marks is what’s happening today in schools. I think that there is this depiction that these things are not happening, but I’m sure they are just because kids are kids, and humans are humans. And I think there’s a very basic juvenile impulse to single out people who are different in certain ways.
Preet Bharara: The thing that moved me about your discussions of being bullied was that you said, it has always caused you to think about the underdog, and the little guy or the little person because that’s the same for me. People might be surprised that I was really really shy, and I had these issues when I was a kid. And then I grew up, and I became one of the most powerful prosecutors in the country.
Andrew Yang: Yes.
Preet Bharara: And you became a successful business person, and are having a rollicking time running for president of the United States of America. It can be very easy to think you don’t remember what it’s like to not be successful, or what it’s like to not be popular, to not be liked. For me it’s been very formative in how I think about the world.
Andrew Yang: Yeah, I felt myself to be that marginalized Asian kid throughout my entire life, and so whenever there was a gathering of people if I noticed someone who seemed like they were out of place I would naturally gravitate toward them. I might be one of the least extroverted presidential candidates in recent memory because on my route I was like a bookish Asian kid who just liked to read fantasy novels, and play Dungeons and Dragons with my older brother whose now an academic.
Preet Bharara: Do you think if you had to go back to your childhood, I’m not asking anyone to do it, growing up and going to elementary school and grade school is tough. But given your experiences if you had to go back would you have handled it differently?
Andrew Yang: It’s hard to know, you know? Because when you’re the scared shy kid I mean you don’t have that many tools in the toolkit. As happened with you, I mean, you’re going through these formative very unpleasant experiences, but then they end up shaping you in various ways. So, I just imagine what I would’ve done differently because it’s like you only have one history.
Andrew Yang: It’s one of the big things because you’re a parent, I’m a parent now, and you look at your own kids. I certainly don’t think my boys are going to grow up with the exact same form of marginalization or bullying that I’d experienced, but then there’s part of me that looks at them and is like wow how are you going to come of age? What does it mean to grow up in society that is at least on some levels more accepting of people of different backgrounds? The other thing is obviously my kids are growing up in a more diverse environment than I did in that era.
Preet Bharara: Yeah, same.
Andrew Yang: And the era is different too because there were only three TV channels, and it’s like everything looked the same on TV.
Preet Bharara: Well and there are Asian people on TV. People literally didn’t know what to call me. So I would say I was from India. And I would get asked, “So does your family live in a teepee?”
Andrew Yang: No.
Preet Bharara: Oh yeah, absolutely. Literally people would say to me, I’m an Indian American obviously, and Asian American is an interesting term in the United States because there’s lots of countries that are Asian. Some people don’t consider Indian Americans to be from Asia because it’s south Asia, and there’s a lot of, sort of, overlapping culture and less overlapping origin. And I would get asked, “Why don’t you move back to China?” I don’t know that would be where I would move back to.
Preet Bharara: But I didn’t get into fights because I was so scrawny that I knew my odds where very low although I did a couple of times because you lose patience. What I did was try to develop come back. And so maybe that’s why.
Andrew Yang: You became witty? That’s actually pretty awesome.
Preet Bharara: I wouldn’t say wit. Yeah, because all I had was, if you could embarrass the bad kid who was treating you poorly but was bigger and stronger and whiter. If you could humiliate them with a taunt or a joke they might stop and if I could get other people to laugh at that person that the only weapon I had.
Andrew Yang: Wow, so interesting. I did not have humor.
Preet Bharara: You went right for jugular I guess.
Andrew Yang: I went right for the beating.
Preet Bharara: Do you think we need more nerds in politics?
Andrew Yang: I certainly do. I think that one of the stats I saw was that there are three trained engineers or scientists in Congress right now. And we got rid of the Office of Technology Assessment in 1995, 24 years ago, so they’ve literally completely devoid of any technology advice or guidance that didn’t come straight from industry. So, we could certainly use more nerds in government.
Preet Bharara: And you are a nerd, am I correct? Even though you don’t have a science degree, you have law degree just like me.
Andrew Yang: I know. But I certainly would consider myself a nerd, yes.
Preet Bharara: You have made a lot of the fact that we have ever increasing technology and automation in this country, and that that automation leads to lots of things including alienation of people who are in professions where their jobs have gone missing.
Andrew Yang: If you look at the voting district data there’s a direct correlation between the adoption of industrial robots in an area and the movement towards Trump. Those industrial robots were centered in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa all the swing states that Trump needed to win. And when you go to these environments you see that there’s a real void that has not been filed, and now you see massive levels of substance abuse and opiate overdoses in those communities. And what happened there is now going to happen to American communities around the country, 30% of malls and main street stores are closing in the next four years.
Preet Bharara: Why do you say that? What’s that based on?
Andrew Yang: The 30%?
Preet Bharara: The 30%.
Andrew Yang: So that’s just real estate industry reports who study the retail sector say that 30% of American malls are going to struggle and fail over the next four years. And then there’s another 30% that might fail.
Preet Bharara: Some might say that’s a good thing. We have too many malls.
Andrew Yang: Come on Preet Bharara you grew up in [crosstalk 00:11:05]. How can you even say such a thing?
Preet Bharara: I grew up a mile from the Monmouth Mall in Eatontown New Jersey, I did.
Andrew Yang: So, we were somewhat overbuilt in retail, but then you have to reckon with the fact that working as a retail cashier is the most common job in the U.S. economy. The average retail worker is a 39 year old woman making $10.00 an hour. So, if you’re saying like, “Hey, too many malls, let’s close 30% of them.” Then you’re looking at literally hundreds of thousands of low skilled American workers who are doing those to jobs to get by. So, then what is the here next move in country where they don’t have much in the way of savings? And if those stores and malls close it’s not like there are going to be other stores and malls hiring.
Preet Bharara: So let’s get back to robots for a second. Are you anti-robot?
Andrew Yang: Well I’m very pro-progress, and I consider robots part of progress. But you have to be honest and say, “If I’m living in a part of the country where my main streets closing, and I don’t have path forward and it’s partially because of robots am I going to like robots?” We have to try and make it so that Americans are actually sharing this sense of progress instead of having the economic rewards concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer of us.
Preet Bharara: I want to get to this idea of people losing jobs, and it’s a guiding principle of yours in some of the policy proposal that you’ve made including the central tenants I think of your candidacy which is the universal basic income. But what I guess is confusing maybe to some people is, we have the lowest unemployment rate we’ve had in decades, and this alarmist talk about the loss of jobs whether it’s from robots or technology or anything else it’s very small given how low unemployment is. How do you square the fact of low unemployment with these bleak picture that you’re painting?
Andrew Yang: We have three primary economic measurements that we rely upon in the media today. Number one is GDP, number two is headline unemployment, and number three is stock market prices. Now if you flash back to 2015, Donald Trumps running for president, and what does he say about the unemployment number? He says, “It’s fake.” He says, “It doesn’t reflect what’s happening in communities around the country.” Now that he’s president of course it’s all-
Preet Bharara: He’s taking credit for it.
Andrew Yang: Yeah, it’s all great. He was right the first time unfortunately. Now while we’re trumpeting this very low headline unemployment number, I think it’s like 3.7%, at the same time our labor force participation rate is also at essentially a multi-decade low of 63%. The same levels as Costa Rica and Ecuador, and that’s right now in the good times of year 10 of an expansion. Almost one out of five prime working age American men has not worked in a year.
Preet Bharara: Right. So what you’re saying is, just so people understand, the unemployment rate that we always talk about on the news is a function of the number of folks who are actively seeking work and want to work.
Andrew Yang: Yes.
Preet Bharara: But there are large numbers of people you’re saying who have given up on working.
Andrew Yang: Yeah, [crosstalk 00:13:47] discourage.
Preet Bharara: And they have to be included, discouraged workers. So from your perspective what is the better index for how employment is fairing in the country at the moment?
Andrew Yang: So if you use something called the U6, which includes people who are discouraged, or trying to cling to the workforce then you have a rate that’s more like the mid to high single digits. Maybe 6% or 7% instead of the 3.7, and if you look at the rate of people who are living in what’s called financial insecurity 78% of Americans are living pay check to pay check. 57% can’t afford unexpected $500 bill. Some of the more telling stats in my view are labor force participation rate, again, close to a multi-decade low.
Andrew Yang: And levels of under employment, that is people who are doing jobs that are not what they theoretically are qualified for. So, if you graduate from college with 38K in debt, and you become a barista you count as employed. That’s like you’ve got a job, but 44% of recent college graduates are in a job that doe not require a college degree. So, if you got to them and say, “Hey, great news you’re employed.” They’ll be like, “What are you talking about? I’ve got this massive debt load, and I’m doing this temp job with no benefits.” But you count as employed.
Andrew Yang: 94% of the new jobs created in the U.S. economy since 2005 have been temporary, gig, or contractor jobs. That’s one reason why you have so many Americans who are working multiple jobs to get by. So, Donald Trump diagnosed this problem while he was a candidate, and then as president it hasn’t really changed for many Americans but he’s singing a different tune.
Preet Bharara: Going back to this idea of automation, I want to make sure I understand your view of it. Are you just being descriptive and saying, “Well we have automation. I’m pro-technology, I’m pro-progress, and it causes these problems that we have to deal with.” Or are you also saying something normative that automation is not good?
Andrew Yang: Well I think unchecked automation where only a handful of Americans enjoy the benefits is not good, and that’s where we are right now. Where Amazon is paying zero in Federal taxes while they’re getting rid of 30% of brick and mortar retail jobs. So if you live in some rural area your stores on your main street close, and there’s nothing coming to you really. Just the jobs in my town that used to be there are gone, and the trillion company is paying zero back into the public coffers then that’s not a great situation. That’s where we are right now.
Preet Bharara: Job wise, right? But there are things that we talk about including, you didn’t one of the things that we focus on to gauge to success of the economy, the GDP, unemployment, and the stock market. There’s this other thing, which is not as important I presume. Utility to consumers, and efficiency for consumers. The fact that Amazon has caused all these stores to shut down, is there some argument that off setting that is the tremendous amount of utility is brought to tens of millions of Americans?
Andrew Yang: Look I love my Amazon Prime account. I love convenience as much as the next guy, but one of the things I say is look access to cheap goods and cool goods are a very cold comfort when your factory closes or your main street closes, and you’re looking around not knowing to do. So, I’m very very pro-progress at large, but I’d be even more pro-progress if more Americans felt like they were sharing in that progress.
Andrew Yang: And if you talk about progress in the manufacturing sector. Our manufacturing sector went from 17 million to 12 million workers over a 15 year period, 2000 to 2015. And 80% of those lost five million jobs were due to technology and automation. If you go to a factory today it’s not wall to wall immigrants, and I know you would agree with this, that we are scapegoating immigrants for something they have next to nothing to do with. It’s wall to wall machines and robot arms. And so if you’re a manufacturing worker are you supposed to be celebrating progress while you get sent home?
Andrew Yang: And I looked into it. I studied economics in college. According economic theory those four million manufacturing workers would find new jobs, get retrained re-skilled, and the economy would grow, and all would be well. But in real life half of them left the workforce and never worked again. And of that group half filed for disability to the point where now there are more Americans on disability than work in construction as one comparison. And then you a coincident surges in suicides and drug overdoses to a point where our life expectancy overall has declined for three years in row. That’s shocking. The last time American life expectancy declines for three years in a row was the Spanish flu of 1918.
PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:18:04]
Andrew Yang: Life expectancy decline for three years in a row was the Spanish flu of 1918. so here we are cheerleading these GDP stats while our people are dying younger of the darkest causes of death you can imagine essentially, so it just goes to show how disconnected these statistics are from our people’s reality.
Preet Bharara: I want to get to your signature proposal in a second, but before I do that, I want to note that you have lots and lots of specific policy ideas. In fact, the cafe team put together a long list of your policies. We’ll get to some of them. There’s a whole, you can see there’s a whole … jeez, Yang.
Andrew Yang: I think the number right now is something like 107 or something.
Preet Bharara: And so there’s a range among your adversaries who are vying for the nomination. Some might say that at one end is you, Andrew Yang and Elizabeth Warren with a lot of policy proposals.
Preet Bharara: At the other end, there are people who are a little less specific now. They say they will roll out more concrete policy proposals. The only other presidential candidate we’ve had on the show is Pete Buttigieg, who is beginning to roll out some policies, but has made the point that at this stage of the race, I want people to get to know me and I want people to understand what values I’m trying to promote and the general themes of my candidacy. You have gone a different way. Why?
Andrew Yang: Well, I think the best way to introduce Americans to who I am is to see what I would do as president. And so if you have over a hundred policies laid out, you get a sense of a vision for the country, and then there’s some values behind that vision. As you know, my signature proposal is a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month for every American adult.
Preet Bharara: Freedom dividend sounds better than UBI.
Andrew Yang: It tests better too.
Preet Bharara: Universal.
Andrew Yang: Basic income. Yeah.
Preet Bharara: It sounds a little bit like it could be a disease.
Andrew Yang: Yeah. UTI. Yeah, that’s true.
Preet Bharara: So freedom dividend is much better. So the freedom dividends is a universal basic income, by which the government would pay, according to your proposal, $1,000 a month to whom?
Andrew Yang: To every American adult starting at age 18.
Preet Bharara: So whether you have one adult household or two adult household, if you had two adults, both adults get the thousand dollars.
Andrew Yang: Yes, that’s correct.
Preet Bharara: And until when? Until death?
Andrew Yang: Until death.
Preet Bharara: And whether you’re a citizen or not?
Andrew Yang: Citizens only. But I’m for a path to citizenship for people who are here.
Preet Bharara: And what about people with green cards?
Andrew Yang: I’d be for a very expeditious path to citizenship because I have a lot of friends with green cards who’ve been waiting for awhile.
Preet Bharara: But I’m not talking about undocumented. I mean people who are legal residents of the United States of America would not get the thousand dollars a month?
Andrew Yang: Until they become a citizen, that’s right.
Preet Bharara: Why?
Andrew Yang: Oh, you have to set a threshold and citizenship seemed to be the appropriate one because at that point you are now obviously paying taxes. I know many legal residents are obviously paying taxes as well, but you’re a full-fledged member of the society with all of the benefits and obligations. I’m very much for legal residence, adopting citizenship. Every time that happens and someone’s cool, I’m like, “You just made America cooler.” It makes me very happy, but only citizens should receive some of the dividend from our shared progress.
Preet Bharara: Do legal residents get social security?
Andrew Yang: It’s a good question. Dig in.
Preet Bharara: I believe they do.
Andrew Yang: You probably actually … you know as well as I do.
Preet Bharara: I believe they do. If you pay into social security as you have to if you’re an employee in this country, then you get the pay out from social security. So I just wonder why you would leave off tens of millions of people from the universal basic income.
Andrew Yang: I don’t think there are tens of millions of legal residence in the U.S.
Preet Bharara: I do know that the figure for undocumented alone is somewhere between nine and 12 million.
Andrew Yang: Yes.
Preet Bharara: But legal residents I would assume is more, but we’ll research this.
Andrew Yang: We should research it. I think legal residents is less than the undocumented number, but I’m for a path to citizenship for people who are here and undocumented. I think we need to try and integrate people into society. But this in many ways is like a very powerful incentive to make citizenship more meaningful.
Preet Bharara: Okay, so let’s go back to the freedom dividend. Why a thousand bucks?
Andrew Yang: It has many benefits, and this is not my original proposal. It was championed by a guy named Andy Stern who used to run the SEIU, and then it was studied by the largest labor union in the country representing service employees. It was then studied by the Roosevelt Institute.
Andrew Yang: $1,000 a month has some tremendous qualities. It would be a difference maker for tens of millions of American families. It would make our children stronger, healthier, better nourished. It would make us all mentally healthier. It would create over two million new jobs in the economy according to the Roosevelt Institute, because of increased consumer demand.
Andrew Yang: But it’s below the poverty line in the United States, which is $12,770 a year. It doesn’t distort our labor markets that dramatically because no one’s going to be able to retire on $1,000 a month.
Preet Bharara: So that’s why it’s not $500? That’s too little, and that’s why it’s not $2,000, because A, that costs more and B, you think it distorts the labor markets?
Andrew Yang: Yeah, that’s right.
Preet Bharara: Why not means test?
Andrew Yang: Well, there’s one state that’s had a dividend in effect for almost 40 years. That state’s Alaska, where everyone in the state gets between one and $2,000 a year from oil money. No questions asked. What I’m saying in my campaign is that technology is the oil of the 21st century, and that what they’re doing in Alaska with oil money we can do for everyone. But one reason why it’s so wildly popular in Alaska is that you just get it. There’s no means testing. It’s universal. This is in a republican conservative state. It was a Republican governor that passed it. In the U. S., if we make this a right of citizenship, then it’ll become much more universally liked. There’s no stigma attached to actually getting the dividend because it’s not a rich to poor transfer. So it’s not like, “Oh, I’m giving it to you. You get it. I don’t get it.” You get rid of all the administration and monitoring requirements, changes of circumstances. There’s no timing of payments issue because I don’t need to figure out how much money you made.
Andrew Yang: There’s no negative incentive to say, “Oh, I made below a certain threshold.” You get rid of a lot of stuff and you make it much more universally appealing. It’s one reason why this dividend in Alaska has stood the test of time and is so wildly popular despite being there for almost 40 years.
Preet Bharara: So everyone gets it. If you’re a Rockefeller, if you’re a Trump, if you’re a Bezos or if you’re impoverished.
Andrew Yang: Yes, that’s right.
Preet Bharara: Do you think that’s fair?
Andrew Yang: In a way you could say that’s the fairest we could do, is that if we’re all owners and citizens and shareholders of this society and we all get a dividend of $1,000 a month, you can interpret that as being quite fair. Though the way I want to fund this is by putting a mechanism in place so that Amazon doesn’t pay zero in taxes next year, because that’s unsustainable.
Preet Bharara: The taxes on Amazon is not going to pay what I think the estimates are, $3 trillion a year for the basic income.
Andrew Yang: So here’s how you pay for it. Our economy’s up to $20 trillion, up 5 trillion in the last 12 years. We’re the richest country in the history of the world, but we’re not measuring and taxing the right things. One of the things I say is like, look, Jeff Bezos is worth $160 billion. It doesn’t matter when you make the income tax level, because he’s never selling his Amazon stock. He’s never going to have a taxable event. You know, it’s like he’s too smart. Frankly. If you increase the tax rate to 70%, he’s not gonna, all of a sudden give you billions of dollars in new revenue. So the way you get the revenue from someone like Jeff is you join every other advanced economy in the world, and you have a value added tax, which would then give the American public a tiny slice of every Amazon sale, every Google search, every Facebook ad, and soon every robot truck mile.
Andrew Yang: And because our economy is now so vast, at 20 trillion, even a mild value added tax generates over 800 billion in new revenue.
Preet Bharara: How mild?
Andrew Yang: 10%, which would be half the European level.
Preet Bharara: And you don’t think that that also has its own negative effects on the economy?
Andrew Yang: Well, it has many positive effects on the economy because it actually gives us a segment of the value that’s being produced and distributed. And again, every other advanced economy in the world has already taken this step because they know it’s perverse for a company like Amazon to sell tens, hundreds of billions of dollars in goods and pay zero in taxes.
Preet Bharara: What do you say to the people who suggest that the sort of giveaway of money as opposed to expanding a tax credit or having some form of means testing, that just giving folks money whether they work or not, whether they’ve earned it or not, in some ways undermines the dignity of work.
Andrew Yang: Well that’s one of the misconceptions. It’s actually very pro-work. Again, it creates a couple of million jobs in the economy. And so here’s the magic to it. So you have this vat, we’re getting this money. Where does the money go? The money goes right back into our homes and communities. It ends up creating jobs right there with our local businesses, but also it supercharges nonprofits and religious organizations. It makes it so that people like my wife who’s at home with our two boys, one of whom is autistic, I mean that’s playing out in families and communities around the country where right now we talk about empowering women. What would empower women is if they had the economic freedom to improve their situations and walk away from exploited over abusive jobs and relationships, which $1,000 a month would actually help them do, so it’s pro-work and it recognizes the work that’s actually being done in our families and communities each day.
Andrew Yang: It also ends up being a catalyst to arts, creativity, entrepreneurship, your brother’s an entrepreneur. I’m an entrepreneur. It’s very rare that someone’s on their last legs economically and then they say, you know what I’m going to so? I’m going to start a business. That’s not really the way it works.
Preet Bharara: Do you think $12,000 a year transforms someone from being sitting around the house to deciding suddenly they’re going to start a business?
Andrew Yang: Well again, you have to look at the cumulative effects. If you have a town of 100,000 people and then there’s an additional $12 million being spent in that community every month, then it’s not just that I have this thousand bucks a month, so I’m gonna start a bakery. But now that bakery makes a lot more sense in my town because now the people, they’ll be like, yeah, I like Andrew’s cupcakes. I don’t make cupcakes.
Preet Bharara: You should, I think you should think about them for the trail. I think the Yang gang would occasionally like cupcakes.
Andrew Yang: Yes. So it ends up being essentially like a reversal of the current mindset and environment of scarcity that unfortunately much of our country has fallen into. This is the trickle up economy from people and families and communities up. The money doesn’t disappear. We get it back as it circulates it over and over.
Preet Bharara: Is this socialism?
Andrew Yang: It’s capitalism where income does not start at zero. And as a CEO, I will tell you that it’s much better for the economy when people have money to spend.
Preet Bharara: What do you think about the term socialism and the debate about socialism and one of your adversaries running for the presidency? Bernie Sanders and his views?
Andrew Yang: I think the entire socialism, capitalism dichotomy is out of date. I like to quote one of my friends, Eric Weinstein, who said that we never knew that capitalism was going to get eaten by its son, technology.
Andrew Yang: Capitalism-
Preet Bharara: I’m just trying to picture that, trying to visualize. Okay, got it.
Andrew Yang: So here’s what he means by that. We’re all assuming that our economy still works like it did in the 70s, where if I start a successful company, I have to hire lots of people. I have to treat them well. I have to pay them well, and I care about what happens in my own backyard. Today, none of those things is true. I can start a successful company, not hire many people. If I hire them, they could just be a handful of highly specialized workers. They can be temp workers. I don’t care about how much they make. I don’t care what happens in my backyard because I sell everywhere. So all of the relationships you take for granted, it’s like, Oh, if I get these companies’ bottom lines to be more profitable, they’ll hire and invest.
Andrew Yang: They’re not going to hire and invest. I just spoke to 70 CEOs in New York and I said, how many of you are looking at having AI replace thousands of your workers? Every hand went up and you could actually fire that CEO if they didn’t employ AI to get rid of those workers. So if you put more money into the hands of that company, does that mean they’re going to go around and hire thousands more high school graduates and rebuild main streets around the country? Of course not. We have to wise up to the fact that we’re in the 21st century and the best way to build an economy that works for us is through something like the freedom dividend. Instead of reaching back into our past for 20th century solutions.
Preet Bharara: How much support is there for the freedom dividend in the current house of Representatives and the Senate?
Andrew Yang: Well, it’s going to be much higher after I’m in the White House in 2021.
Preet Bharara: But why will that be? Because by definition, you will have had a mandate cause that’s the issue on which you would’ve been elected.
Andrew Yang: That’s right. And the Democrats and Progressives will be like, oh my gosh, thank goodness that Andrew Yang beat Donald Trump and he’s our president and let’s work with him to pass this dividend because it will put more money into the hands of children and families. But here’s the fun thing, Pete. The Republicans and Conservatives and Libertarians and Independents are going to look up and say, wait a minute, this dividend’s a huge win for rural areas, red states on the interior, communities that have been devastated by automation. Am I really going to stand in the way of Andrew Yang, or my constituents in this dividend? And so we’re going to pass the dividend when I’m in the White House.
Andrew Yang: Americans are going to be shocked that the government did something right for a change. They’re going to look up and then we’re going to see what else we can get done.
Preet Bharara: But on the way to getting there, obviously from the position of hindsight, assuming that you get elected, things will have had to happen that wouldn’t necessarily have to have made the freedom dividend as you call it, incredibly popular and you ride on a wave of popularity that’s universal, essentially, to the White House, which would seem to presuppose that along the way between now and election day, not just average Americans, but also people who are in a position to make endorsements, including of you, would come along and say, you know what? I’ve been listening to Andrew talk about the freedom dividend and the basic income and I’m on board and I’m convinced. Is that happening?
Andrew Yang: All that is happening. You just met Steve Marchand, who ran for governor in New Hampshire as a Democrat and he just came out and endorsed me and there’s so many politicians who are deeply interested in universal basic income. They’re trying to see how warm the water is for them to come out for it.
Preet Bharara: Any Alaskan politicians endorse you?
Andrew Yang: I’m in touch with the Mike Gravel team. There’s a very high level of interest and this is going to be one thing that the people can help with, is that as universal basic income becomes, and it’s already very popular among a majority of Democrats and young people and progressives, but as it sweeps the nation, then obviously more politicians will get with the program and say, this is a much better move than anything else we’re talking about.
Preet Bharara: Let’s move on to a related issue, economic burden, that a lot of folks have. And that’s higher education. There was a very moving story that I’ve talked about and lots of people have noticed around the country where the billionaire Robert Smith who decided to, as a surprise, giving the commencement address at Morehouse College say, I’m going to take care of all your student debt. That was great for the class of 2019 that school. And some might say, well, it’s a wonderful story. It’s very heartwarming and it’s great for those people. But you know, what does it say that you have to rely on that kind of fortuity and graciousness on the part of somebody who’s made $1 billion? What are you going to do for people with respect to school debt?
Andrew Yang: We should wipe out a lot of that student loan debt, not just for the people who-
Preet Bharara: How are you going to do that? You’ve got the 3 trillion on the, on the freedom dividend.
Andrew Yang: Well, on the freedom dividend, a couple things. So we get a lot of the money back in economic growth and new activity. We also save billions of dollars on incarceration, homelessness services, emergency room health care, things we spend $1 trillion on right now. I was with a prison guard in New Hampshire, very politician-y of me, I know, but I was with a prison guard in New Hampshire who said we should pay people to stay out of jail because when they’re in jail, we spend so much on them. We’re going to save a lot of money. And then the fourth thing is, there was one estimate that we would increase our GDP by $700 billion by adopting this plan just on the basis of better health and education and mental health outcomes for our people. You’re actually getting a lot of the value back. So you’re asking how can we forgive the student loan debt. We’re up to one point five trillion in student loan debt, up from less than a hundred billion in 1999 so this is a very recent phenomenon.
Andrew Yang: So when young people look up and say like, Hey, is this normal? Is not normal. College has gotten two and a half times more expensive since I went. And it has not gotten two and a half times better. So when you say, how are we going to forgive the student loan debt? This again is a giant stimulus of the economy. Every dollar we forgive in student loan debt, that young person, sometimes older person too, is just going to end up having more money to spend. What are they going to do? They’re going to buy homes, they’re going to start families. They’re going to start businesses. They’re going to do the things they should be doing. This is a stimulus of the people. Instead of shoveling money to the banks, we give the money back to our people, where they actually will make use of it and at this point, it’s not like the schools are on the hook with this money.
Andrew Yang: This is just a set of financial institutions that are holding this one point five trillion. They don’t care where the money comes from. We can pay them off.
Preet Bharara: Do you believe there should be a national minimum wage?
Andrew Yang: I believe that no Americans should be working full time and be poor. The problem is that if you increase the minimum wage from, let’s call it, $9 to $15, that’s going to hasten the automation of many of these jobs and environments like fast food restaurants and retailers that are barely scraping by. So it’s better just to give everyone $1,000 a month because that’s a de facto $6 an hour raise for everybody. And it gets to people like my wife, who right now a minimum wage would not touch.
Preet Bharara: You’re a lawyer by training. You were an unhappy lawyer in private practice for a bit. And one of the issues that obviously I care about and talk about and is consuming the new cycles are issues relating to the rule of law and Donald Trump’s conduct and the Mueller report and everything else.
Preet Bharara: I just wanted to ask you, as somebody who went to a phenomenally terrific law school six years after I did, do you think the House of Representatives should proceed with impeachment of Donald Trump?
Andrew Yang: I think there’s a very strong case that they should, but as you suggest, I think it’s their job to figure out whether to impeach Donald Trump and it’s my job to solve the problems that got him elected and to beat him at the ballot box if he’s still there for me to beat. So we all have jobs to do. Looking at the evidence, and obviously I find much of his conduct somewhere between an objectionable and reprehensible. It’s one reason why I’m running for president to beat him, but I will say that the problems that got him elected are much more profound than can be resolved even by getting him out of office through impeachment or legal proceedings.
Preet Bharara: Describe what those things are.
Andrew Yang: The levels of dislocation and despair and the fact that many Americans just do not feel like the government is responsive to them. I have met thousands of people who voted for Donald Trump as essentially to vote to burn the house down. They don’t feel like the government’s working for them. They look around and see their kids strung out on drugs, their way of life dis-
PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:36:04]
Andrew Yang: … they look around and see there are kids strung out on drugs, their way of life disappearing. They’re looking for answers. They don’t have anyone really speaking to them except for Donald Trump who’s like, “Hey, you know who’s fault it is? Everyones. You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to turn the clock back and I’m going to bring your jobs back.” Many of them knew he was talking garbage and nonsense even at the time but they’re like, “Well at least he’s talking about it.” To me he’s a symptom. He’s a manifestation and I’m here to cure the disease.
Preet Bharara: You have been outspoken on the legalization of marijuana. You believe in legalization?
Andrew Yang: Yes, that’s true.
Preet Bharara: Have you smoked any marijuana today?
Andrew Yang: Definitely not.
Preet Bharara: On the trail? Does it help you on the trail?
Andrew Yang: Let’s just say you can be for the legalization of marijuana and not indulge in it yourself.
Preet Bharara: Very well said. Nice side step there.
Preet Bharara: I think you’ve said, with respect to the Supreme Court, now is there a legal issue. There should be term limits.
Andrew Yang: Yes.
Preet Bharara: What is the process by which Supreme Court Justices should be appointed, and serve, and why?
Andrew Yang: We should change it from lifetime appointments to 18 year terms, which would then make it more predictable if you were to have nine justices there’d be a new one appointed every two years. Every presidential election you know would end up nominating two justices, if you kept it at nine. This would make it so that we don’t freak out when an 85 year old woman gets a cold. Lifetime appointments might have made sense when your life expectancies were much shorter. As was the case when they wrote the constitution.
Andrew Yang: Back in the day people stepped off the court for a multitude of reasons. They didn’t stay there until they were on death’s door because they were afraid all the laws of the land were going to change if they weren’t there.
Andrew Yang: What might have made sense in another point in time, it was just meant to protect judges from political influence. An 18 year timeframe is plenty long for someone to maintain judicial independence during their time.
Preet Bharara: Do you believe Puerto Rico should become a state?
Andrew Yang: I believe that the Puerto Ricans want Puerto Rico to become a state, yes it should become a state. It’s one possible way we can forgive the debt load that is crushing the people and the economy of Puerto Rico.
Preet Bharara: Should the District of Columbia become a state?
Andrew Yang: Same thing, if they want to become a state, which I think they categorically do. They should become a state as well.
Preet Bharara: Yeah.
Andrew Yang: No taxation without representation-
Preet Bharara: [crosstalk 00:38:08] I was just going to say that.
Andrew Yang: Yeah.
Preet Bharara: Two Asian guys talking about no taxation without representation.
Andrew Yang: Yes.
Preet Bharara: We learned our civics well. Even while being bullied in school.
Andrew Yang: Yeah. Maybe that’s why we learned them well. We’re like, “What are the answers?”
Preet Bharara: Like, “No recess. I don’t want to go to recess.”
Andrew Yang: I was more of a no gym guy.
Preet Bharara: Yeah.
Andrew Yang: But then I became very, very … You can’t see me but I then became this very strapping example of-
Preet Bharara: [crosstalk 00:38:34] You look very fit. You look very fit now.
Preet Bharara: Should companies like Facebook be broken up?
Andrew Yang: Here’s a very interesting set of issues. Are there instances where it would make sense for them to divest parts of their businesses? Yes. Does that solve the problems we’re actually concerned with? In some cases probably not. If you look at Facebook, there’s a problem with the information people are getting.
Andrew Yang: There’s another problem with the negative impact on the mental health of teenage girls in particular. That has nothing to do with the ownership structure of Facebook. That has something to do with the fact that we have engineers who are turning super computers into slot machines and dopamine delivery devices for teenagers, which has had a disastrous effect on their mental health and wellbeing.
Andrew Yang: We have to figure out what problems we’re actually trying to solve and not be tempted to use 20th century solutions for 21st century problems, because the dynamics of tech are not such that, “Oh, if you just increase competition all will be well.” That’s actually not the way it works. There is no reason for any of us to want to use the fourth best navigation app. We just want one that works, and has the right traffic, and the rest of it. That’s why we’re all not Binging things today. It’s not like, “Oh if I just had a multitude of search engines”-
Preet Bharara: I think people don’t even know what the hell you’re talking about. Bing is a search engine-
Andrew Yang: That’s my point.
Preet Bharara: … that tried to compete with, what’s the other one? Oh yeah, Google.
Preet Bharara: Although I was on my laptop today and it forced me into a Yahoo search.
Andrew Yang: How did you react to being forced to a Yahoo search?
Preet Bharara: Poorly. I reacted poorly to that.
Andrew Yang: Yeah. There are certain dynamics that work in tech that make is such that, just being like, “If we just break them up and have” … It is definitely the case that Silicon Valley’s business models have been transformed in a negative way. Where now everyone’s just trying to get acquired by one of the behemoths.
Preet Bharara: Right, but what do you think about this other aspect of the problem on social media? Toxicity, hatred, white supremacists and I guess more generally, separate from the policies, and they’re interesting, and they should be judged on their merits, but there’s also this question in this country of how we bring people together. I don’t know that you do that through individual policies. Although you have great faith in the power of policies that affect people who have been disaffected, to bring them back into the fold. What do you think, generally, about a vision for unity for the country?
Andrew Yang: Well one example of a policy I think would help is an American exchange program. Where every high school senior goes, and lives, and works in another part of the country with a group of 24 other high school seniors. Then it would be very hard to-
Preet Bharara: Not Paris but Paris, Texas.
Andrew Yang: Not Paris, Texas.
Preet Bharara: Okay.
Andrew Yang: Then you’d be Facebook friends with people from all over the country. When someone tried to demonize someone from a particular group, let’s call them Indians. You’d be like, “I already know an Indian kid from Chicago and he was just like me.” That’s one way a policy could actually reduce the insularity and tribalism.
Andrew Yang: On the social media networks, in particular, there’s a guy named Jaron Lanier would pointed out something, who’s one of the pioneers of the internet. He said that negative sentiment is more powerful on the internet than positive sentiment. Which is one reason why it seems like inflammatory, and even toxic, and hateful. Ideas spread so much online.
Andrew Yang: That’s a fundamental observation that you have to recon with. Where, okay we’ve set up the social networks that transmit negative emotions, and ideas faster, and more powerfully than they transmit positive ones. What does that mean for how to bring people together?
Andrew Yang: At this point even Mark Zuckerberg is saying, “I need help with this.” If you listen closely he’s saying, “Look, I’m the head of a private company. I can’t be making all these decisions.” Then we’re throwing rocks at him. In part because, again, our government and congress is decades behind the curve. We can’t imagine them making intelligent decisions about these issues so we’re like, “Mark do something.” Then Mark’s like, literally in an interview with George Stephanopoulos he was like, “I should not be making these decisions.”
Andrew Yang: If you look at what Facebook’s doing to screen their toxic content, you know what they’re doing? They’re paying humans chicken scratch to look at the content, figure out what’s hateful, and evil, and obscene. Then, to no surprise of anyone, those humans start losing their minds after a certain number of months. Then they’re quitting. It’s most brown inducing job you can imagine. Talk about inhuman. Facebook, the multi billion dollar company, is paying people … I think it’s something like $10 bucks an hour to look at terrible things so that-
Preet Bharara: And send them into depression.
Andrew Yang: Yes and send them into depression. That’s what passes for policy today because the government’s like, “Do something about it.” That’s what they’re doing.
Preet Bharara: What qualifies you to be the Commander in Chief?
Andrew Yang: I think what most Americans are looking for in a Commander in Chief is good judgment because these are the kinds of decisions that there’s really no prior preparation.
Andrew Yang: I have principles around what I would do with the military. I would end the forever war. The fact that we have troops in so many places. In many cases engaged in conflicts that, to your point of the rule of law, that Congress has never authorized. That the American people have very little visibility into even … Certainly the American people did not decide on many of these conflicts. I think we need to put the ability to intervene militarily back into the hands of Congress where it belongs.
Preet Bharara: How would you deal with Iran?
Andrew Yang: I mean I would hope to reopen the deal we entered into about deescalation of their nuclear activity in return for various economic considerations and others. I think we’d get more done when we’re engaged with people than when we’re not.
Preet Bharara: I’ve spent most of this talking about policy, and your background, and your character, and how you think about the country. I do want to spend a few minutes talking about the thing that everyone does on the cable networks and that is the horse race.
Andrew Yang: Sure.
Preet Bharara: The process.
Preet Bharara: You’re one of, I don’t know, 1,100 running.
Andrew Yang: Come on.
Preet Bharara: It wasn’t-
Andrew Yang: [crosstalk 00:44:15] There are only 24 of us.
Preet Bharara: 24. Maybe not closed yet. Is that the closed universe? I think there might be more.
Andrew Yang: There might be one or two more.
Preet Bharara: One or two more.
Preet Bharara: How the hell do you stand out? You have said something that I think is clever, about yourself. You said, “The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math.”
Andrew Yang: Yes.
Preet Bharara: It was very funny. Pete Buttigieg said something like that, “The opposite of of Donald Trump is a millennial veteran who is gay and runs a city in the Midwest.”
Andrew Yang: I think mines a better rating.
Preet Bharara: His is a little longer. It’s a little longer.
Andrew Yang: You can’t even remember his.
Preet Bharara: [crosstalk 00:44:47] You got to do the Yang Gang. Buttigieg has the same problem. It’s going to be an issue for him because the Buttigieg, there’s no rhyming thing for him.
Preet Bharara: Is it important to frame yourself as the opposite of Donald Trump?
Andrew Yang: Well it certainly helps people make sense of my candidacy in a very, very memorable way, but I’m one of only 12 candidates who’s qualified for the Democratic primary debates on the basis of both polling and individual contributions. Most Americans are not really tuning into what’s going on with 2020. They’re going to turn on that TV, they’re going to see me standing there and they’re going to say, “Who’s the Asian man standing next to Joe Biden?”
Preet Bharara: Then they’re going to look you up?
Andrew Yang: Then they’re going to Google Asian man standing next to Joe Biden. Then they’re going to find out about me, my vision for the country and the Yang Gang is going to grow and grow.
Andrew Yang: We’re starting to see increased polling numbers in New Hampshire, and Iowa, and the early states. This movement is just catching fire at the right time. We’re going to grow, and grow, and peak at the right time.
Preet Bharara: Do you have optimism that the Democrats will do what a lot of them are saying they’re going to do, which is to be positive only and not trash their adversaries?
Andrew Yang: Well this is a very, very interesting dynamic Preet Bharara because you’re in a crowded field. I’m top 10 by most any measurement. The internet has me actually in 7th, most likely to win the nomination. Sometimes 6th. I’m actually in a better position than a lot of people.
Andrew Yang: The question is, if you’re in the 13 to 25 range and you’re trying to get on the map, it’s going to be hard to resist taking a shot or two at various people above you but here’s the-
Preet Bharara: Are you signaling? Why don’t you take a shot at someone right now.
Andrew Yang: Here’s the very interesting thing though, Preet Bharara, is that the Democrats have a history of being nice to each other. Then the gloves come off in the general. Sometimes that dynamic shift is not good for us. If we’re going to have a genuine race then the gloves should probably come off at some point during this race, so that by the time our nominee faces Donald Trump all the stuff’s out in the open. As opposed to all of the really important stuff being held in wait until after the person gets nominated.
Preet Bharara: It’s a very candid honest response.
Preet Bharara: Here we are, on Stay Tuned, take the gloves off. Say something about Bernie Sanders.
Andrew Yang: A lot of Americans are very excited about the fact that he seems like a very sincere economic messenger, but his solutions are very backward looking. They’re trying to resuscitate an economy that existed at some point in the 20th century. A lot of that is going to be very, very hard to actually materialize in real life. We need to be more forward looking about how we can actually make an economy work for people.
Andrew Yang: This is coming from someone who liked and supported Bernie in 2016.
Preet Bharara: Is he too old to be president?
Andrew Yang: This is one of the most important … Because this is one of the elephants in the room Preet Bharara. We’re looking at Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden, and we’re like, “Okay they were born in 1941 and 1942, respectively. Is that what we want?” As a party, as a people? It’s very hard for candidates to talk about. It’s very hard for the media to talk about but every American’s thinking about it.
Andrew Yang: When I go out and I’m on the trail it’s one of the first things that comes up. If someone has a problem with either of those two candidates, and you’re in a personal conversation with them, one of the first things they’ll say is, “They’re too old.”
Preet Bharara: Are you saying they’re too old?
Andrew Yang: I’m saying that the American people should have a very real conversation about what we think we want in a president. Whether or not having someone who’s advanced age is actually an issue for the party or the country.
Preet Bharara: What about Elizabeth Warren?
Andrew Yang: I like Elizabeth Warren’s vision of the country. You said she’s very wonky and I like that.
Preet Bharara: You like that? Would you be her running mate or would you have her as your running mate?
Andrew Yang: Well one thing that you know, because you’ve hired many, many people yourself, but you would never agree to work with someone unless you actually met them and spent some time with them. I’ve never met Elizabeth Warren so it would be impossible for me to say whether-
Preet Bharara: Oh that was a nice dodge. It’s a nice …
Preet Bharara: How about Kamala Harris?
Andrew Yang: I also have not met Kamala so I don’t have a basis, but I’m going to meet them all soon at the debates so I’ll have more to say after June 26th.
Preet Bharara: What’s your strategy for the debate?
Andrew Yang: I have four zingers locked and loaded. I’m kidding.
Preet Bharara: You do?
Andrew Yang: No, I’m kidding. That’s a joke.
Preet Bharara: All right. You actually have six.
Andrew Yang: Well I think-
Preet Bharara: [crosstalk 00:48:42] I know you do because you’re a nerdy guy. You got to prepare-
Andrew Yang: I’m over prepared.
Preet Bharara: … the defense.
Andrew Yang: I actually think it’s painful every time a politician brings out their clearly rehearsed zinger in one of those contexts. Right now I’m still introducing myself to the American people. I’m very happy to have that opportunity.
Preet Bharara: Let’s say you become the nominee, what is the way that you take off the gloves with Donald Trump? He’s a bully, lots of people suggest, I tend to agree. Do you think he’s a bully?
Andrew Yang: Oh yeah. Clearly.
Preet Bharara: How is he different from the bullies that you dealt with when you were a kid? If at all.
Andrew Yang: You know, that’s a great question. He’s actually quite similar, in many respects.
Preet Bharara: Are you going to jump him?
Andrew Yang: That wouldn’t be a fair fight-
Preet Bharara: At the debate?
Andrew Yang: … I’m a man in my prime. That dude’s 72 and eats fast food every day.
Preet Bharara: This is going to be an interesting debate.
Preet Bharara: Short of physicality, how do you take on a guy like that?
Andrew Yang: I’m the perfect candidate to expose Donald Trump because I’m talking about the problems that got him elected, but I have real solutions. Again, his solutions were build a wall, turn the clock backwards, bring back the jobs. I’m saying we have to turn the clock forward. We have to evolve in the way we see ourselves and our relationship to the wealth we’re producing in this society. That’s one reason why I’m already peeling off many people that supported him in 2016. That’s one reason I’m going to end up the Democratic nominee because Democrats want, first and foremost, someone who can beat Donald Trump in 2020. More and more people wake up every day to the fact that I am that candidate.
Preet Bharara: Complete the following sentence, which I had Valerie Jarrett, who was a guest on the show recently, complete. “When they go low” …
Andrew Yang: We make a clever joke Preet Bharara style. Make everyone laugh and expose them for the blustering failure of a president that he is.
Preet Bharara: That has less of a ring to it then, “We go high.”
Andrew Yang: That’s true, it’s a bit longer.
Preet Bharara: It’s a bit longer. Maybe want to tweak that a little bit.
Preet Bharara: Do you think America is ready for an Asian-American president?
Andrew Yang: I’m going to tell a joke right now because someone said this to me. America’s ready for an Asian-American president because it will irritate everybody.
Preet Bharara: What is that … I don’t even know what that means. I wouldn’t be … You wouldn’t irritate Asian-Americans or maybe a little bit. Competitive Asian-American … You know it’s true. Competitive Asian-Americans would be like … They’d have to deal with their parents saying to them, as my parents would, “You’re 50, he’s 44 and he’s already the President of the United States.” There’d be some competitive angst.
Andrew Yang: I think Americans are ready because most Americans I meet on the trail do not care about my racial background or identity in the least. They just want to know what my vision for the country is, how it’s going to help them and their families. When they see that I’m there to help it’s the last thing they care about.
Preet Bharara: If you don’t win the primaries and you’re not the Democratic nominee, what do you think the next few years will look like for you?
Andrew Yang: Well we’re going through the greatest economic and technological transformation in the history of our country. What experts are calling the fourth industrial revolution. I’m running for president to help America wake up to the fact that it’s not immigrants and that we need to advance meaningful solutions. That work will be there if I’m not the nominee. I mean there’s a lot of work to be done. If that’s as part of a new Democratic administration, that would make me very happy if I had a role that I thought I could actually help really make these changes. If it’s another sort of role that would also be great, but the problems are big and getting worse. I see myself as someone who can help.
Preet Bharara: You know what I appreciate about that answer? I fully expected you to do what most politicians would do and not answer it by saying, “Well I intend to win.” Not even admit-
Andrew Yang: You expected that of me Preet Bharara?
Preet Bharara: Well I expected that of an average person, not someone like you. You’re [exitor 00:52:19] guy. Right?
Andrew Yang: That’s true.
Preet Bharara: Very impressive. Yeah. That you admit the possibility that something would happen and it’s not just the standard talking point so I appreciate that.
Andrew Yang: Well I’m on the record saying I have a lower than 51% chance of becoming president, as we’re sitting …
Preet Bharara: Lower than 51 … That’s not terrible.
Andrew Yang: Well the internet has me at … It’s like seven or eight percent.
Preet Bharara: Andrew Yang, congratulations on how far you’ve come. Good luck to you and the entire Yang Gang.
Andrew Yang: Thank you so much Preet Bharara. I thought you might join the Yang Gang for a second there.
Preet Bharara: I’m remaining neutral. I’m remaining neutral for now. Good luck.
Andrew Yang: Thanks so much.