Andrew Yang Wants Tax Exempt Landlords, MSG To Pay For Universal Basic Income

Entrepreneur and Democratic Candidate for New York City Mayor Andrew Yang has made his idea for a universal basic income one of the top tenets of his campaign. However, the Columbia Law graduate has not explained where the money would come from until now.

Yang told CNBC’s The News With Shepard Smith that he plans on targeting tax-exempt landlords such as Madison Square Garden to pay a portion of the bill.

“MSG’s tax breaks [are] $40 million a year, alone,” Yang told Smith. “If you look at that money and you get it back into the city’s hands, plus you invest some level of the city’s resources, we can alleviate extreme poverty here in New York City.”

Yang’s universal basic income would provide an average of $2,000 per year to city residents living in extreme poverty. According to his campaign website, the effort would cost $1 billion per year.

Some cities have started their own universal basic income pilot programs, including Stockton, California. The city of Stockton began giving up to $1,000 a month to those living in poverty. Lorraine Paradela began receiving $500 a month under the program and said the money had a huge impact.

“I was able to breathe better,” Paradela told USA Today. “I was able to sleep.”

Paradela added the monthly income allowed her to pay bills, get her 2003 Chevy fixed, and helped her purchase a used 2015 Honda Accord that allowed her to keep working.

Similar programs are being pushed in Chicago and Upstate New York.

Yang first proposed the idea during his run in the Democratic Presidential primary. The idea was originally met with laughs but has gained traction as a way to pull Americans out of poverty, especially as the gig economy has put more workers into the job market without traditional benefits.

“It makes us stronger, healthier, more secure, mentally healthier, improves our relationships,” Yang told CNBC. “Fifty-five percent of Americans are now for cash relief, in perpetuity, and 85% are for cash relief during this pandemic.”