116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Correction: Andrew Yang is from New York. This story was updated at 2:45 p.m. Jan. 30, 2020, to reflect that information.
IOWA CITY - Andrew Yang has visited Iowa City more than any other presidential candidate, and he showed it Wednesday as he talked with a young crowd about the cost of textbooks, shared Netflix passwords and a popular restaurant near the University of Iowa campus.
'We ordered Oasis Falafel on the way here, and it's so good!” Yang gushed, getting cheers from the audience of about 300 at the Iowa Memorial Union.
Yang, a New York entrepreneur, is polling well behind the Democratic front-runners five days before the Iowa caucuses. But as he joked with the crowd, held his son on the stage and posed for selfies with dozens of people, Yang pushed for support from Johnson County, where there are more registered Democrats, and voters skew younger, than much of Iowa.
He gave a familiar pitch about how automation and outsourcing have cut manufacturing jobs in the United States and e-commerce empire Amazon has hurt local retail.
'Guess how much they pay in taxes?” Yang said about Amazon.
'Zero!” shouted many in the audience.
Amazon pays some local income taxes, but no federal taxes in 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported. But as customers get their goods from the online giant, malls go from 'cheery to spooky” with store closures and local economies miss out on property taxes and sales taxes, Yang said.
Yang supports a Universal Basic Income, which would give each American adult $1,000 a month to spend on food, bills, college tuition - whatever they need.
He would pay for it by consolidating some welfare programs and giving social program recipients a choice between those benefits or $1,000 a month, according to his website.
He would also implement a Value Added Tax of 10 percent on the production of goods or services produced by companies.
Yang got applause when he talked about setting term limits of 12 years for members of Congress and when he said he'd legalize marijuana. Yang also believes he could win over a lot of President Donald Trump's supporters.
'I'm the only candidate in the Democratic field he (Trump) hasn't tweeted about and that's because he knows I'm better at the internet than him,” Yang said. 'I'm his worst nightmare in the general (election).”
Yang has held campaign stops in Iowa City 15 times, more than any other candidate, according to the Des Moines Register's candidate tracker. Bernie Sanders, who is leading the polls in Iowa, has been in Iowa City eight times.
Austin Bayliss, 32, of Wellman, said he was startled by the difference between the average age of the crowd at the Yang event compared to a Joe Biden event he attended earlier in the week.
'At the Biden event, I was probably the youngest eligible voter,” he said. 'Today is the total flip side of that.”
Cathy Cooper, 17, Lucy Kaskie, 16, and Beatrice Kaskie, 15, got permission from their parents to miss part of the day at Liberty High School to attend the Yang event. They are too young to caucus, but they have seen several candidates in recent weeks.
'Our parents are Democrats,” Lucy Kaskie said, nodding to her sister. 'We don't have to like the candidates they like. They just want us to meet people.”
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