I’m writing this from my 7th trip to Iowa, which has been tremendous.
Over the last two days, I’ve met with everyone from city councilwomen, activists, teachers, union leaders, small business owners, and tech entrepreneurs to everyday Iowans. I also attended a house party held for me in rural Iowa.
Our message has gotten out. I’m being recognized on the street more and more. One Democratic leader said to me over dinner, “You’re my #1 this year. I’m telling other people to stay uncommitted until they meet you.” We have a chance to shock the world.
Tonight, I will be one of the headliners at the Progress Iowa event in Des Moines. CNN, Politico, the Washington Post, the Wall St. Journal, and other national press will be there. You can tune in tonight here for the livestream at 7:45pm EST. There will be 250 Democratic activists and state officials there.
The text of my speech follows below. I am beyond pumped up for it.
We have been given an opportunity to change history. Let’s do it.
Progress Iowa – Keynote Speech – Thursday, December 20th, 2018
Thank you for having me. It’s a privilege and honor to be here. I’m Andrew Yang, and, unlike some of the other speakers here tonight, I’m running for President.
I’m not a politician, I’m an entrepreneur. I’m a problem-solver who likes numbers.
And I have an important question for you all tonight, perhaps the most important question of our time – why did Donald Trump win Iowa by almost 10 points?
For that matter, how did Kim Reynolds just win re-election and have a Republican house and senate to work with? You all had incredible candidates. I met many of them.
The reason why Iowa has gone Red is that you all have lost 40,000 manufacturing jobs and 12,000 retail jobs in the last number of years. And it’s not just in Iowa.
The reason Donald Trump is our President today is that we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Wisconsin since 2000, all of which were swing states, and all of which he won. When jobs disappear, people get angry, and blue turns to red.
I am here to tell you that things are going to get much worse. I was just in Silicon Valley and there are hundreds, thousands of engineers and scientists working to solve the business problems of this era. The unfortunate truth is that their solutions will leave you and your communities with fewer and fewer jobs.
What happened to manufacturing is about to happen to the rest of our economy.
You have lost 12,000 retail jobs since 2001, and at least 3 of your 17 malls are faltering and may close. We all know that malls and stores are closing because of Amazon. There are still 178,000 retail and trade workers in Iowa. What will these workers do when the malls close? How will they provide for their families?
There are over 30,000 truck drivers in Iowa – it is the most common job in twenty-nine states. I was just at Iowa 80, the largest truck stop in the country. Silicon Valley is making trucks that drive themselves. They’re 98% of the way there. What will these truck drivers do? How will they maintain a decent, middle-class life?
There are thousands of call center workers in Iowa. Google now has software that will replace those workers. What will the call-center workers do when their jobs are automated away?
The reason why Iowa is turning red, the reason why you are losing, the reason why we are losing, is that our economy is being transformed in ways that make it harder and harder for people to make ends meet. We are in the 3rd inning of the greatest economic and technological shift in human history. The 1st inning was the deregulation of financial services. The 2nd inning was the decimation of manufacturing jobs. The 3rd inning is the phasing out of brick and mortar stores. It is the elephant in the room that is tearing our country apart. It has already given us Donald Trump. By the 5th or 6th inning, this country and your state will be unrecognizable.
This is the central challenge of this era. It is a massive problem – which means that we, the Democratic Party, must start proposing massive solutions. We need new ideas. We need a vision. And that is why I’m running for president: to provide a bold new economic vision for the country of a Trickle-Up Economy, that flows from our people, our families, and our communities up.
My plan has three pillars:
The first is simple – I call it the Freedom Dividend. We are going to give every American adult $1,000 per month free and clear, no questions asked, to do whatever you want. This would put $16 billion into the hands of hardworking Iowans every year so you can pay your bills, start new businesses, invest in your families, and plan for the future. It would create over 40,000 jobs here in Iowa immediately. It would lead to thousands of new businesses. It would give your children a real path forward.
Now, some will tell you this idea is crazy or impossible or too good to be true. But if you look at our history, this is a deeply American idea. Thomas Paine was for it at the founding of the country, and, more recently, Richard Nixon was for it, Martin Luther King Jr. was for it, Milton Friedman and 1,000 economists signed a letter saying that this would be great for the economy and society. It passed the House of Representatives twice in 1971. And one state has had something like this in effect for 36 years where every resident receives between $1,000 and $2,000 each year, no questions asked. What state is that? [Alaska]
And how do they fund it? [Oil]
And what is the oil of the 21st century? [New technology/data]
In Alaska they call it the oil check. We will call this the tech check.
Alaska shows us what is possible. The oil dividend is wildly popular in a deeply red state and it improves children’s health, creates thousands of jobs, and reduces income inequality.
We can easily afford it. Our economy has grown to $19 trillion, up $4 trillion in the last 10 years alone. We are the richest and most advanced society in the history of the world. We can easily afford a dividend of $1,000 per adult per month.
Now, I’d like you to imagine what this would do for you, for your families and communities, if everyone you knew were receiving $1,000 a month for your state and for your country.
For one, it would create millions of good jobs across the country – especially for people in rural states like Iowa. With everyone in your community getting $1000 a month, people would have more money to spend at your local businesses. We know exactly what people would spend their money on – car repairs, tutoring for their kids, the occasional night out, home repairs. These businesses would then hire more people to meet demand. This would rebuild main street economies here in Iowa and across the country and give your children a reason to stay.
Second, the Freedom Dividend would be enormous for women. Right now, millions of women are stuck in abusive jobs or relationships because they do not have the economic freedom to walk away. The Freedom Dividend would enable millions of women to take control of their futures and move toward better situations. It would begin to recognize and pay women for the vital and underappreciated work they do day-in and day-out to keep our families and communities strong and whole. The Freedom Dividend is one of the best things we could do to genuinely empower women.
Third, it would eliminate the financial insecurity that has swept this country. Already, 57% of Americans can’t afford an unexpected $500 bill, and 31% of Iowans who work full-time can’t pay their bills. $1,000 a month would totally transform the lives of millions of Americans. It would give everyone a secure sense of the future. It would reverse the mindset of scarcity that has overcome so many of our neighbors and replace it with a mindset of abundance and possibility.
So that is the first part of the vision. We need to invest in our people – we need to build a new trickle up economy from our families and our communities up.
Second, we need to get health care off the backs of American families and businesses and shift to Medicare for All. It is insane that, when we become sick or injured, we are more concerned about paying for treatment and navigating a bureaucracy than we are getting well. We spend twice as much as other industrialized countries to worse results because our system has the wrong incentives. As a former CEO, I know that our healthcare system prevents businesses from hiring more people. Anyone who thinks we don’t have the money for this is dead wrong. I will move us towards Medicare for All as president.
The third pillar is that we must change how we measure value in our economy. Who here wakes up excited about GDP? My wife is at home with our two young boys who are 6 and 3, one with special needs. What is the value of her work? The market would say zero. GDP would say zero. We all know that’s nonsense. We all know that the work that she’s doing is just as valuable as that done by a hedge fund investor or a software programmer. She works harder than I do, and I’m running for President.
GDP and corporate profits will keep going up and up even as more and more Americans are left behind. We need new measurements for the economy, things that actually matter to our families and communities. As President, I will introduce the American Scorecard, which measures things that actually matter to us – like childhood education rates, mental health and freedom from substance abuse, median income, environmental quality, and proportion of elderly people who can retire with dignity.
We are in the midst of the greatest measurement problem in the history of the world, and it threatens to destroy us.
If we had the right measurements, we would see that our life expectancy has declined for three straight years, 8 Americans die from drugs every hour, and millions of Americans have dropped out of the workforce. These are the problems of our time, and this is where our energy should be going. Not improving some phantom GDP number. As president, I will present the American Scorecard each year during the State of the Union so we can see how we’re doing.
So those are the 3 pillars of my vision for the future of this country – The Freedom Dividend, Medicare for All, and the new American Scorecard. I have 70 other policies on my website – but these three are the key, big ideas needed to keep our country together and move us forward.
We are facing historic challenges as a people. They are deeper and darker than most believe possible. Most Americans can do absolutely nothing about them. But there’s a reason I’m here with you all tonight. You, the progressives of Iowa, have an historic level of power and influence on the future of the country. I tell people around the US. Our political system is completely broken and dysfunctional. There are giant pipes clogged with money, billions of dollars, and there’s nothing most anyone can do about it. But there’s a vulnerability in the system. There’s hope for the future. That vulnerability and hope is here with the people of Iowa. If you all decide to get animated about a new direction, then that’s the way, and the only way, the revolution will start. If you all decide to set a new path for the country, that’s the way it’s going to go.
My ask for you all tonight is to make my vision for the country your own. With your leadership, we can build a new type of economy from our people and our families up. With your leadership, we can take this vision to the rest of America in January of 2020. With your leadership, we can reverse this disaster of a presidency and swing it in the other direction, because the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math.
Thank you, Iowa. God bless you all. God bless the United States of America.