Threats against the American workforce have New York mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Bill de Blasio taking aim at robots and an automated future. "If a company is gonna put thousands of people out of work, they should bear responsibility for making sure that those folks get a new job,” de Blasio told FOX News’ Tucker Carlson Thursday.
The Big Apple's CEO has created a “robot tax” and a larger automation policy all designed to “protect working people whose livelihoods are threatened by the unchecked growth of automation,” according to a campaign press release.
"Thirty-six million jobs that could be made obsolete [by automation]," de Blasio said. "We're talking as early as 2030." His "robot tax" would require corporations where automation eliminates jobs to pay the equivalent of five years’ worth of payroll taxes upfront for each worker whose job was eliminated.
The revenue from the tax would be put toward creating new, union jobs (in green energy, health care and education), and “workers displaced by automation would go to the front of the line for these new positions,” according to de Blasio’s press release for the plan.
The de Blasio plan proposes several initiatives, including the creation of a new agency to regulate automation and oversee its impact, by requiring permits from companies increasing automation. Previously, the proposed “robot tax” has been discussed by business leaders such as Bill Gates.
Andrew Yang is another 2020 Democratic candidate who has focused on this issue, proposing a national universal basic income ($1,000 a month for every U.S. adult citizen) to react to the negative impacts of automation.
"I don't care about what folks in Silicon Valley who are trying to justify that technology is somehow going to save us all," de Blasio told Carlson. "You know, they're resting their laurels on the universal basic income."
De Blasio said while a universal basic income (UBI) may be part of the solution in some form, he sees it as a "crutch" to make the rich feel better. "What it's going to lead to is a future without work. And the last thing we need-- I'm a progressive, I'm a Democrat, I believe in work. And I believe work gives people a lot of value, a lot of meaning. And we need to protect work in this country," he said.
The de Blasio campaign claims the NYC mayor's policy is the farthest-reaching proposal of any 2020 candidate to address technology-related job losses.