$1,000 checks to Americans suddenly popular — and Andrew Yang wants credit

The former Democratic presidential candidate's proposal for a universal 'Freedom Dividend' bears a surface resemblance to Trump/Mnuchin/Romney calls for $1,000 coronavirus cash payments

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Andrew Yang Visits Polling Location On Morning Of New Hampshire Primary
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang in Keene, New Hampshire, February 11, 2020.
(Justin Sullivan/Getty)
Updated: March 17, 2020 - 11:05pm

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President Trump, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and Sen. Mitt Romney have all put their support behind mailing $1,000 checks to every American to help alleviate the burden of the coronavirus scare, and the idea is growing in popularity across official Washington.

It wasn't that long ago when Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang got shunned by many in the capital city for his universal basic income plan, which came with a $1,000 monthly check. Now he wants to claim some vindication. 

To be fair, the White House proposal is only for a one-time cash payment to tide people over until the spread of the coronavirus begins to slows and normal economic activity resumes. Still, the similarities are not lost on Yang. 

“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.

While details of the Trump administration’s $850 billion stimulus plan are not finalized, the concept of government-issued monthly cash payments echoes Yang's call for a universal “Freedom Dividend” that he repeatedly hammered during his unsuccessful 2020 presidential bid. 

 

Yang also said in his statement that he will “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.”

The concept of Universal Basic Income, or UBI, has had long-time supporters from the libertarian right and the liberal left.

Yang Tweeted Tuesday: “I’d like to express my profound gratitude and appreciation to everyone who supported my campaign when others would not. I hope you feel like we helped move our country in the right direction in the nick of time. I do.  #yanggang #YangGangForever.”

Yang took notice of the many supporters who are noticing the uncanny timing of the possible coronavirus cash and his ideas.

“Everyone is now in the #yanggang apparently,” tweeted journalist Kara Swisher. “Which is why I will be interviewing ⁦@AndrewYang⁩ on Recode Decode tomorrow to discuss: White House expresses support for immediate cash payments to Americans as part of coronavirus stimulus package”

“I never thought that the Trump Administration would offer a Universal Basic Income, something the only Pres. runner to ever propose was @AndrewYang UBI gives money to people DIRECTLY, instead of bureaucrats, which is why so many pseudo-leftists resist it,” tweeted statistician/essayist Nassim Nicholas Taleb in a tweet that Yang retweeted.

Yang, a CNN contributor, retweeted a CNN segment with CNN host Don Lemon and contributor Catherine Rampell to discuss Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney's call to give every American $1,000 to alleviate the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. On CNN, Yang said "Congress needs to pass this bill right now."