Andrew Yang Says Politicians That Claim Retraining Is The Answer To Automation Are ‘Essentially Lying’

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang speaks during a forum on gun safety at the Iowa Events Center on August 10, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.
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Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has been busy on the campaign trail promoting his campaign, which centers around a universal basic income (UBI) to combat job losses due to automation that he believes will continue to hollow out the American economy. During a speech and Q&A in Muscatine, Iowa — available on YouTube — Yang was met with one attendee that suggested his approach is “missing the boat” and said the focus should instead be on retraining Americans for jobs of the future instead of focusing on implementing a UBI.

Yang agreed that education and retraining are important but posed a question to illustrate why he believes it’s not the answer.

“The question I pose to you is if the government has historically been really, really bad at it, saying we’re gonna do more of what has not worked, is that actually a recipe for success when it failed the manufacturing workers?” he asked.

The 44-year-old serial entrepreneur added that approaching the average trucker for retraining would not lead to a positive reaction from most.

“You’d be more likely to get punched in the face by one of those truck drivers than have them sign up on your clipboard. So if a politician says, again, we’re going to educate and retrain all Americans for the jobs of the future, they’re essentially lying, and I am not a liar.”

According to one of Yang’s FAQs, the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which was designed to aid displaced manufacturing workers, only led to 37 percent of members ending up in a field they were retrained for. It also highlights that approximately half of Michigan workers that exited the workforce between 2003 and 2013 were not retrained for a new job and instead landed on disability — despite the state’s No Worker Left Behind program.

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Yang’s UBI proposal has been met with skepticism from some while others suggest that some form of UBI will be necessary in the coming years. Elon Musk, who has thrown his support behind Yang, has been vocal about his belief that UBI will likely become necessary due to automation. Per CNBC, he claims that there’s a “pretty good chance” that this UBI be one of the paths forward for the United States in the face of automation.

In terms of overall polling average, Yang is in sixth place with 3.3 percent support. His campaign has been steadily growing, and he recently jumped to fourth place in a new national Emerson poll with 8 percent support. The Democratic candidate will appear in the October debates and currently needs to hit 3 percent or higher in two more DNC-approved polls to make the November debate.