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Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang invites Detroiters to join the "Yang Gang"

Andrew Yang
Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio

Andrew Yang isn't shy about being a math nerd. 

And his supporters love it. 

The businessman and Democratic presidential candidate's signature phrase, "I did the math," brings loud cheers, every time, from people at his campaign stops.

Yang, who says "the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian guy who likes math," made a stop in Detroit on Saturday, explaining the centerpiece of his campaign:  a thousand dollar guaranteed monthly income for every American over the age of 18, paid for with taxes on corporations.

"How much did Amazon pay in taxes last year," he asked. "Zero!" yelled the roughly 600 people at the event held at the tavern, Detroit Shipping Company. "That's right, Amazon somehow paid less in taxes than each of you!" Yang responded.Amazon did in fact, pay zero federal taxes in 2018, as well as in 2017.

Yang says universal guaranteed income is necessary because technology companies are replacing human workers at an alarming pace. Nearly 30% of retail stores are expected to fail in the next few years, due to Amazon's growing grip on commerce, he says.

And it's only going to get worse, Yang says. Within three years, artificial intelligence programs are going to be able to mimic human call center workers so well, people won't be able to realize they're speaking to a computer.

"Driving a truck is the most common job in 29 states in this country including Michigan, and my friends in Silicon Valley are working on trucks that can drive themselves," he says.

Yang says the reason President Donald Trump won the presidency is that he accurately assessed what was happening to American jobs, but he says the President wants to go backwards, trying to force manufacturers to create more jobs in the U.S., and demonizing immigrants, who aren't part of the problem.

"I want to go forward," he says. Yang also supports Medicare for all, and he wants to replace Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the primary measure of national wellbeing, in favor of measures that are more meaningful, like health and life expectancy.

The candidate says there's a good chance he can win the presidency, because he says he appeals to former Trump supporters, as well as libertarians and Democrats.

Yang's campaign says he has received at least 65,000 individual campaign contributions, which is one of the criteriaselected by the Democratic Party for participation in the primary debates this summer.  (The other criteria is reaching 1% in polls.)

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.