Bill de Blasio on Universal Income: People Want to Work

New York Mayor and presidential candidate Bill de Blasio says if he’s elected, he wants to create a new agency that would govern how companies automate jobs, and he endorses a “robot tax” against companies that eliminate jobs through automation. 

The Democratic candidate outlined his plan in an opinion piece for Wired, calling it an alternative to rival candidate Andrew Yang’s universal base income plan, reports The Verge.

De Blasio’s plan calls for the creation of the Federal Automation and Worker Protection Agency (FAWPA), and to remove tax incentives for automation. It also adds a “permitting process” for any company wanting to displace workers through increased automation and companies would need to offer new jobs that pay as much as their old jobs did, or give their displaced workers severance packages. 

His “robot tax” would require companies that want to eliminate jobs through automation to pay five years’ worth of payroll taxes into a fund that would be used to create “labor-intensive, high-employment infrastructure projects” along with new jobs in healthcare and green energy. 

According to the mayor’s plan, the workers would be guaranteed new jobs at “comparable salaries.”

He said Yang’s plan overlooks the value of a job as compared to “financial life support” coming from a monthly check. 

According to The Verve, others have promoted the idea of robot taxes, including Bill Gates, who discussed the idea in 2017. European lawmakers have also rejected the idea. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders has also criticized Yang’s plan for universal income, saying that people want to work. 

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