Tech executive Andrew Yang has made his universal basic income plan a central focus of his campaign. Back in December, a New Hampshire family was chosen among many applicants to test out his theory, with the Democratic presidential candidate personally footing the bill.
Jodie Fassi and her husband, Chuck, learned they would be getting $1,000 every month throughout 2019 with no questions asked.
"I was speechless," she said. "My mouth was open. My husband started crying."
Yang's "freedom dividend" would give $1,000 each month to every American aged 18 to 64. He says a UBI would create millions of jobs and make families stronger and healthier.
Chuck Fassi, who lost his job as a service manager last year, was skeptical. He and Jodie Fassi, who owns a cleaning business, wondered why they were chosen over a lower income, single-parent household.
Then they remembered what happened in 2016.
"It was like, 'OK, a lot of American middle-class families felt like they were left behind,'" Chuck Fassi said. "And maybe we are a good representation of that."
The couple also questioned how the money would help families if underlying systemic problems were not addressed first.
"But then I was like, thinking, 'OK, what would the $1,000 a month do for people?'" Chuck Fassi said.
With a daughter in college and a household to maintain, they quickly found out.
"We'll take some of it, put it toward her college payment," Jodie Fassi said. "The car broke down — we had to do brakes."
Yang says the $3.2 trillion plan would be paid for with a tax on companies that have downsized employees through automation or profit off of consumer data.
"Basically, he's kind of using the American people as stockholders in the American economy," Chuck Fassi said.
Does this mean the couple is voting for Yang?
"Andrew is on my list, but I haven't narrowed it down yet," Jodie Fossi said.
In the past month, Yang started paying a second family in Iowa a universal basic income.
Yang has struggled with low poll numbers, but he has had success with fundraising, announcing Monday that he has met the financial threshold to be part of the second and third Democratic debates.