Patterico's Pontifications


House Judiciary Democrats Hold Hearing On Reparations

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:30 am

[guest post by Dana]

Today is Juneteenth, a day that is set aside to celebrate the official end of chattel slavery in the United States, and it is also the day chosen to hold a House Committee hearing on slavery reparations, including setting up a commission to determine what reparations would entail with regard to the descendants of slaves. Today’s proposal, H.R.40 is being sponsored by Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is backing the bill. Sen. Cory Booker, actor Danny Gover, and author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who is seen as having brought the issue of reparations back into the public conversation, are scheduled to testify in support of Lee’s measure.

Supporters of “reparatory justice” want people to know that they view this as more than just the government sending a check to black Americans:

Advocates emphasize that reparations would address more recent policies, and do not necessarily mean the government would be writing checks to black people… government could engage in…zero-interest loans for black prospective homeowners, free college tuition, community development plans to spur the growth of black-owned businesses in black neighborhoods — to address the social and economic fallout of slavery and racially discriminatory federal policies that have resulted in a huge wealth gap between whites and blacks in America. It would be up to the commission to explore such options and others.

From Cory Booker:

Booker…told the committee that America has not yet grappled with racism and white supremacy and that the hearing presents a “historic opportunity to break the silence, to speak to the ugly past and talking constructively about how we will move this nation forward.”

“It’s about time we find the common ground and the common purpose to deal with the ugly past and make sure that generations ahead do not have to continue to mark disparities,” Booker said on Wednesday.

Booker had previously told CNN’s Jake Tapper:

“Do I support legislation that is race-conscious about balancing the economic scales? Not only do I support it, but I have legislation that actually does it.”

Booker has authored his own companion bill:

It’s the only reparations bill to be introduced in the Senate after Reconstruction. Like Jackson-Lee’s bill, the senator’s bill would establish a commission to examine the impacts of slavery in the U.S. — from its inception until the end of the Civil War in 1865 — and recommend ways to compensate the descendants of slaves.

Co-sponsors of Booker’s bill include Democratic presidential candidates Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar. A spokesperson for Joe Biden commented that the candidate “believes that we should gather the data necessary to have an informed conversation about reparations, but he has not endorsed a specific bill.”

Recent polling about reparations puts hopeful Democratic candidates in an interesting position, especially the top-tier Democrats who are embracing the issue:

A Fox News poll in April found that 60 percent of Americans oppose paying cash reparations to descendants of slaves, while just 32 percent support it. A Rasmussen poll in the same month found that just 21 percent of likely voters think taxpayers should pay reparations to black Americans who can prove they are descended from slaves.

However, in a finding that could put 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls in a bind, the Fox poll found that among Democratic primary voters, 54 percent said they were likely to support a candidate who backed reparations, while 33 percent said they were not likely.

Additionally, Data For Progress found in a poll last year that while the measure had only 26 percent of Americans in favor, it had net positive support among voters under 45. A Point-Taken Marist poll in 2016 found that while 68 percent of Americans were opposed to reparations, 6 in 10 black Americans said they were in favor.


A recent government survey found that 52 percent of Americans — including growing percentages of whites, blacks, independents, Democrats and Republicans — believe the government does not spend enough money on improving the conditions of African-Americans, according to The Associated Press. But the survey found that just three in 10 Americans think the government is obligated to make up for past racial discrimination.

Postscript 1: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked his thoughts about reparations, and his comments made very clear his position on whether any reparations bill would be given a hearing:

I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none us currently living are responsible is a good idea. We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We elected an African-American president.

I think we’re always a work in progress in this country, but no one currently alive was responsible for that, and I don’t think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it. First of all, it would be pretty hard to figure out who to compensate. We’ve had waves of immigrants come to the country and experience dramatic discrimination of one kind or another. So no, I don’t think reparations are a good idea.

Postscript 2: Unbelievably, (and ironically or expectedly, depending on your level of cynicism), only Elizabeth Warren has said specifically that American Indians should be part of any conversation about reparations.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


31 Responses to “House Judiciary Democrats Hold Hearing On Reparations”

  1. H.R.40 refers to “40 acres and a mule” promise to freed slaves.

    Dana (bb0678)

  2. Hope this doesn’t turn into South Africa.

    mg (8cbc69)

  3. Juneteenth can be a scary holiday on its own without the House hearings on reparations. It traditionally is celebrated by several instances of “knockout”.

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  4. Are they going to do anything that matters

    Narciso (f8a289)

  5. Here’s my reparations program: school vouchers. White folk have been promising good schools for black folk since 1866 and have yet to really deliver. Whether due to segregation, housing patterns, or union rules, schools most likely to be attended by African-Americans get poor government service, even when more money is spent.

    So eff it. Give every African-American child a voucher worth the same as what the state spends on the average public school child. College is no answer if the grammar school has failed.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  6. America is still paying for its failure to impeach Andrew Johnson.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  7. I’m not sure that “Well, we quit enslaving and eventually, eventually, gave you the same rights as whites after you threw a huge tantrum about it, and you elected an African-American President. Isn’t that good enough to make up for hundreds of years of abuse and exploitation?” is the most politically astute response. Really he should have gone with something about equal opportunities, IMO.

    Zero interest loans for education and business ventures and community redevelopment aren’t necessarily terrible ideas. They might manage to address several issues at once.

    Nic (896fdf)

  8. Race hustling. Or do they think we don’t know who and what Barbara Jackson Lee, Cory Booker and Ta-Nehisi Coates are? And who wrote Danny Glover’s lines for him?

    nk (dbc370)

  9. Will the family of Eli Whitney pay?

    mg (8cbc69)

  10. Will Strom Thurmonds half black daughter get some cash?

    mg (8cbc69)

  11. Democrats suing themselves?

    mg (8cbc69)

  12. The United States House of Representatives is now — to no one’s surprise — the propaganda branch of the Democratic National Committee.

    It’s much ado — albeit loud ado — about nothing.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  13. @13 have you not noticed that that is how it works? When the Republicans are in, it’s the propaganda branch for the Republicans, when the Democrats are in, it’s the propaganda branch for the Democrats. Most especially when there is divided government.

    Nic (896fdf)

  14. It’s not the same, when Republicans are in charge, investigations and proposals are sneered by the press,academia et al, its cheered with the dems

    Narciso (f8a289)

  15. Wonder what sort of reparations will be demanded when they realize that Planned Parenthood killed over 16 million black babies since Roe v Wade while the Dems cheered them on…..

    harkin (e5c973)

  16. @ Nic (#13): I take your point, and you may be right as to future Congresses; I fear so.

    But unless I missed something, Paul Ryan and the GOP committee heads didn’t engage in remotely this level of shamelessness. Individual GOP legislators, even sub-caucuses (e.g., the Freedom Caucus), were certainly shameless in their pandering. But that’s not at all the same as essentially every House committee holding meaningless hearings on legislation that has zero chance of passing the Senate, much less being signed by the POTUS. Some Trump superfans criticized Ryan for that; I think it was a feature, not a bug.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  17. That is a game changing question, harkin.

    mg (8cbc69)

  18. Want mine from France, just because… cough it up, froggies: ‘1066 and all that.’

    “… I always felt we tried to go a bridge too far.” – Lt.Gen. F. Browning [Dirk Bogarde] ‘A Bridge Too Far’ 1977

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  19. “But unless I missed something, Paul Ryan and the GOP committee heads didn’t engage in remotely this level of shamelessness.”

    There were at least 60 votes to overturn Obamacare.

    That said, this sort of thing is embarrasing and shameless regardless of who’s voting. It’s also short-sighted, because I reckon that some reps lost their seats when they couldn’t pass the vote once it was actually more than virtue-signaling.

    Davethulhu (fab944)

  20. There were at least 60 votes to overturn Obamacare.

    Practice makes perfect…

    But seriously, I don’t think you can compare something that was unarguably a realistic legislative goal (which came within a few votes of happening) and something like reparations, which is unadulterated lunacy.

    Dave (1bb933)

  21. @19 only if you pass them directly to me, Sir John Lackland.

    @21 It was absolutely not a realistic legislative goal under the Obama presidency.

    Nic (896fdf)

  22. it’s unlikely that this majority could ever amount to this, but consider between 1948 when the fair deal failed and 1965, there were incremental steps, same between 1965 and 2009,

    narciso (d1f714)

  23. I really would like to see the GOP members put up a Slavery Reparations Act, containing a LOT of voucher money for poor black kids to go to the private grade school of their choice. A lot of blacks would want that, but the Democrats favor the NEA over the poor black kids.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  24. Newt would have gone for something like that, McCarthy has a certain lack of imagination.

    Narciso (f8a289)

  25. Will Barack Obama pay a half share of reparations money?

    Gary Hoffman (7ec1de)

  26. And who wrote Danny Glover’s lines for him?

    Prolly not the same guy who wrote them for Danny’s best work:

    Matador (39e0cd)

  27. For Native Americans, the casino franchise seems to be working out. I’m not sure what for of reparations would work other than that, since with many things (housing, education, investment zones, even money) there would be complaints about disturbing their cultural heritage; not all from clueless white people.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

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