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Yang: ‘We have to actually make this economy work for us’

  • Presidential candidate Andrew Yang, gives a cheer after getting a high five from Ciaran Murray, 2, of Andover, N.H., held by his mother Brittney Murray, left, after a campaign event at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H., Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. It was Yang's first event in New Hampshire following the Iowa Caucus. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • Mark Dunau, a produce farmer from Hancock, N.Y., asks presidential candidate Andrew Yang a question about small business taxes during his campaign stop at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H., Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. ap — James M. Patterson

  • Karen Copenhaver, of Woodstock, Vt., asks a question of presidential candidate Andrew Yang during a campaign event at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H., Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/4/2020 10:45:00 PM
Modified: 2/4/2020 10:44:53 PM

NEW LONDON — The polarization and anger so prevalent in modern-day politics are making Americans feel “pummeled into exhaustion” and pitting people against each other, Democratic presidential contender Andrew Yang said on Tuesday.

Political parties have long played a game of “you lose, I lose” that’s built resentment and largely left the working class behind, he said during a campaign stop at Colby Sawyer College.

“How the heck does Donald Trump become our president?” Yang, 45, asked about 80 people gathered inside the Ware Student Center. “It’s because this pendulum has been swinging back and forth while the way of life in many communities has been sinking to the ground.”

But that cycle could be stopped, Yang promised, adding change starts by focusing on problems “on-the-ground that people can see in our communities every day.”

Those include revitalizing struggling communities and providing people the means to compete in a rapidly changing economy, said Yang, who founded the for-profit test preparation company Manhattan GMAT.

He sold the firm in December 2009 and resigned as the company's president in early 2012 before starting the nonprofit Venture for America.

“We have to get to the hard work of actually curing the disease that got Donald Trump elected,” he said. “Donald Trump is a symptom, and the disease has been building up for years, even decades.”

Yang’s stop in New London was part of a seven-day tour of the Granite State that kicked off after he arrived early Tuesday morning from the Iowa caucuses, where he garnered 1.1% support, according to early results.

At Colby-Sawyer, he was quick to express frustration with Iowa and technical problems that plagued its process.

“I got to say, New Hampshire, you’re about to look awfully good,” Yang said. “You know what’s going to happen? People are going to vote and then we’re going to know how many of you voted, and that’s it.”

“That alone will be a quantum leap forward,” he added.

During a roughly 30-minute event, Yang decried the loss of manufacturing jobs in New Hampshire and predicted the loss of even more in the service sector, retail and truck driving industries.

“We’re in the midst of the greatest economic transformation in the history of our country, the fourth industrial revolution, and it is ripping us apart,” he said.

In the meantime, Yang said, nationwide problems with substance abuse, suicide, and anxiety and depression are caused by an economy “pushing entire communities into oblivion.”

To combat those, he proposed the “freedom dividend” a universal basic income of $1,000/month for every American adult over the age of 18.

The dividend could also replace welfare and social programs, with recipients being given a choice between their current benefits or the $1,000.

It would be paid for with a 10% value-added tax, or VAT, which would tax the value a business adds to a good or service as it’s being produced. Yang pitched the tax as a way for big companies, such as Amazon, to contribute back to local economies.

“We have to actually make this economy work for us, for you, for your bottom line, for your family’s bottom line and not the big companies’ bottom line,” he said. “We have to stop pretending they’re the same things; they’re not.”

Grafton resident Debbie Black said the dividend could help the small town.

“I feel like our general store would open back up,” said Black, who plans to vote for Yang in the primary. “I think it would make a profound change for folks locally. We would have that much more money to invest in our town and our surrounding towns.”

Meanwhile, Woodstock, Vt., residents Karen and Martin Copenhaver said Yang’s promises to build coalitions spoke to them. They’re still undecided, however.

Karen Copenhaver said she’s seen people support other candidates, thinking they’re “somehow the most right and righteous because they’re so angry.”

“I think we need somebody that is not angry,” she said.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.




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