As The Inquisitr reported, Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang announced during his opening statement at Thursday's debate that he plans to provide 10 American families with $12,000 per year to test his campaign's signature proposal -- a universal basic income (UBI) of $1,000 per month for every American over the age of 18. To date, Yang has given his dividend to three families, which means that — after the recent 10 are in effect — a total of 13 families will receive the dividend.
"It's time to stop trusting politicians and start trusting ourselves – so I'm going to do something unprecedented tonight," Yang said in his opening statement, per Yahoo News, before announcing his plans.
The 44-year-old serial entrepreneur teased the big announcement before the debate, and numerous reports leaked it beforehand — some suggesting that the pilot violates the Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations. But according to Ben Pu of ABC News, a press release from Yang's campaign claims that this is not the case.
"We consulted with our counsel, and the Freedom Dividends are fully compliant with all FEC regulations."Although the FEC does not allow the use of campaign money for "personal use," Yang's press secretary, Madalin Sammons, claims that the funds for the UBI pilot fall under the definition of "legitimate campaign expenditures."
"The campaign would not be making [Universal Basic Income] payments irrespective of Andrew's candidacy, and that therefore it is a legitimate campaign expenditure," she said, in a statement to Time.According to a Yang campaign aide, the team is confident that the proposal won't cause any legal trouble.
"It's something that has not been done before, so we relied heavily on our legal team, and we feel confident moving forward after talking to them about it," the aide said. "Our legal team has walked through all FEC compliance issues and given us the go [ahead]."
Social media reactions to Yang's proposal have been all across the spectrum. While Yang skeptics criticized the move as gimmicky, others believe it's an example of him already living up to his campaign's promises.
"Many politicians make grand promises and never fulfil them," wrote Yang supporter Caroline, adding that Yang is already enacting his proposed policies well in advance.
Many claimed that Yang's Freedom Dividend is an example of purchasing votes. But as journalist Andrew Solender highlighted, if this were the case it would make much more sense to give "thousands of people a little money" as opposed to ten families a large amount.
Entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian Sr. was so supportive that he committed to paying for Yang's pilot if he is unable to. He said on Twitter that that United States must begin looking at ways to "adapt to the massive automation shift" that's taking place.