‘Squad’ Member Wants Federal Slavery Reparations: Has ‘Creative’ Way to Pay the $14 Trillion

It seems there is no end to the slavery reparations debate despite the fact that slavery ended over 150 years ago which means there is not one living salve left in America.

Bringing the issue back to the table is Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., a prominent member of the “Squad.” This is, in fact, the same Rep. Bowman who was charged for illegally pulling a fire alarm at the Capitol last October during a crucial vote in the House.

Bowman’s proposal: a $14 trillion reparations measure. This initiative, according to Bowman, is justified by the belief that the federal government can and should be held accountable for the legacy of slavery and its lasting impact on African Americans.

Just how will this the government afford such an astronomical amount? Bowman draws parallels to the extensive federal spending during the COVID-19 pandemic and the space race, asserting, “When COVID was destroying us, we invested in the American people in a way that kept the economy afloat. The government can invest the same way in reparations without raising taxes on anyone.”

Bowman is not alone supporting this behemoth. There are in fact eight other sponsors backing H.R. 414, introduced in 2023. This bill is premised on the argument that the United States bears 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 proposed $14 trillion reparations program is intended to assist the descendants of enslaved Black individuals and people of African descent, who currently make up approximately 12% of the U.S. populace.

This legislative action echoes a previous bill from three decades ago, which aimed to establish a commission to study reparations. The current measure, also supported by Bowman, seeks to address perceived racial inequities in sectors like housing, education, and the criminal justice system.

Furthermore, Bowman advocates for the rights of incarcerated individuals, stating, “The incarcerated should be able to vote. And I definitely think that when they come out, they should automatically be enfranchised.”

Financially, the proposed $14 trillion for reparations significantly surpasses the federal government’s $7 trillion spending in 2020, approximately 28% of the nation’s economy.

Bowman offers a long-term vision for this financial commitment, suggesting, “Who says the $14 trillion needs to be paid out in one shot? It might be possible for it to be paid out over five or ten or twenty 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 draws on scholars’ estimates, valuing the forced labor during slavery at about $97 trillion today. Bowman emphasizes, “There were 246 years of free labor that produced trillions or hundreds of trillions of dollars for the U.S. economy. The economy wouldn’t exist in the way it does today if slavery hadn’t built it.”

The future of this bill is doubtful as the proposal lacks sponsors in the Senate. Bowman has not responded to a request for comment.

However, this call for federal reparations is part of a broader trend, with similar efforts in blue states like San Francisco. The state of New York, under Gov. Kathy Hochul, also recently formed a commission to investigate slavery’s history in the state and potential reparations methods.

The prospect of a $14 trillion reparations plan, in light of America’s staggering $34 trillion national debt, raises profound questions about whether anyone in Washington actually cares about fiscal responsibility.