A New York lawmaker wants the federal government to push a $14 trillion reparations measure.
The measure is touted by “Squad” member Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., who wants the federal government to be held accountable for slavery and the aftermath of it, according to the Journal News.
Bowman cited the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the “space race” endeavor as examples that would make the measure feasible.
“When COVID was destroying us, we invested in the American people in a way that kept the economy afloat,” said Bowman. “The government can invest the same way in reparations without raising taxes on anyone.”
“Where did the money come from?” Bowman said. “We spent it into existence.”
Bowman is among nine sponsors of H.R. 414, which seeks to establish that the US has “a moral and legal obligation to provide reparations for the enslavement of Africans and its lasting harm on the lives of millions of Black people in the United States.”
The measure, introduced in 2023, would prompt the federal government to spend $14 trillion on a reparations program that would support the descendants of enslaved Black people and people of African descent.
Reportedly, the bill comes three decades after another bill that sought to assemble a federal commission to study reparations.
The measure to establish a federal commission on the impact of reparations was reintroduced this year and Bowman is a sponsor of it.
The measure could address concerns over perceived racial disparities in housing, mass incarceration, and education outcomes, and, as the bill states, “eliminate the racial wealth gap that currently exists between Black and White Americans.”
Bowman added that the “incarcerated should be able to vote.”
“And I definitely think that when they come out, they should automatically be enfranchised,” he said.
“To put the price-tag in perspective, the federal government spent about $7 trillion in 2020, about 28% of the nation’s $25 trillion economy,” the Journal News reported.
Bowman believes that the $14 trillion could be distributed over decades.
“Who says the $14 trillion needs to be paid out in one shot?,” said Bowman.
“It might be possible for it to be paid out over five or 10 or 20 years. You could take that $333,000 and break it up into monthly checks over X amount of time. There are creative ways to do the right thing and do what needs to be done.”
The bill cites scholars’ estimates that the US benefited from over 222 trillion hours of forced labor between 1619 and the end of slavery in 1865, “which would be valued at $97,000,000,000,000 today.”
“There were 246 years of free labor that produced trillions or hundreds of trillions of dollars for the US economy,” said Bowman. “The economy wouldn’t exist in the way it does today if slavery hadn’t built it.”
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