James Reinl, Daily Mail, July 19, 2023
New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ administration is touting reparations payouts as a solution to the wealth gap between blacks and whites, the latest sign of interest in a policy that voters reject by wide margins.
A report from the city’s Department of Health and the Federal Reserve Bank says Washington-led reparations payments to the descendants of slaves are the ‘best’ way to end inequality.
Conservatives have jumped on the proposal for reparations, which are deeply unpopular among white voters, saying health chiefs are overstepping their mandate and ‘sowing racial divisiveness.’
Angry social media users dubbed the plan a ‘cash grab for the lazy,’ and said the city health team was led by ‘communists.’
Others said payouts to African Americans were long overdue.
The report comes as New York Gov Kathy Hochul weighs whether to sign a bill that would start work on a state reparations scheme, as other US states and cities roll out their own efforts that may cost billions.
The 40-page document calls for reversing America’s deep-rooted inequalities, saying the average white family holds nearly eight times the wealth of black families, and more than five times that of Hispanics.
Researchers called for ‘bold’ policies to reverse this and looked at expanding Medicaid, universal health care, writing off student and medical debts, and baby bonds.
But reparations, they concluded, were the best answer.
The word ‘reparations’ is mentioned no less than 17 times in their report.
Federal payouts to the black descendants of slaves are ‘best poised to directly impact the racial wealth gap,’ the document says.
To work, payouts should be ‘predicated on the average difference in black and white wealth’ — meaning they would have to reverse the nearly eightfold advantage that whites currently enjoy, they said.
Such a federal reparations program ‘would eliminate the black-white wealth gap,’ the report said.
It would also ‘seek acknowledgment, redress, and closure for America’s complicity in federal, state, and local policies — including slavery, Jim Crow, and ongoing systemic racism — that have deprived black Americans of equitable access to wealth.’
Researchers did not state how much African Americans are owed, but proposals from reparations plans elsewhere in the US have dreamed up sky-high sums costing billions or even trillions of dollars.
A San Francisco proposal for $5 million payouts to each eligible black adult could total more than $100 billion for the city. A California-wide plan has been costed at roughly $800 billion.
Those plans far exceed current state and city budgets. New York’s Mayor Adams has already complained that the $8 million spent each day housing an influx of asylum seekers is overstretching the city.
All plans face the same conundrum — how to fairly calculate the losses that black people have incurred over the centuries, and what might be required to prove eligibility for any payout.
Republicans and conservatives pounced on the report as being unrealistic.
Council Republican Minority Leader Joe Borelli said reparations would worsen ‘racial divisiveness’ in one of America’s most diverse cities, which is roughly 40 percent white, 29 percent Hispanic, and 23 percent black.
State Conservative Party chairman Gerard Kassar said New York already had generous schemes to cover medical bills for poor families and said the health department was ‘going way far afield.’
‘I don’t see a health issue associated with reparations,’ Kassar said.
‘It’s also difficult to hold current generations for mistakes of the past. We’re not living in the past.’
New York lawmakers last month voted to create a commission to consider reparations to address the lingering, negative effects of slavery.
Gov Hochul has not spoken about the bill, but is expected to sign it.
State assemblywoman Michaelle Solages said the reparations plan was ‘about beginning the process of healing our communities’ and overcoming the ‘generational trauma that people are experiencing.’
Plans to compensate black Americans for slavery-era sins have been around for centuries. They’ve gained traction in recent months as ever more left-leaning states and cities launch local inquiries into their own atonement schemes.
There is no agreed framework for what a scheme would look like.
Ideas range from cash payouts to scholarships, land giveaways, money for special banks and investment funds, bespoke grants for housing, or just statues and street names.
Cash payout schemes are popular with 77 percent of the black Americans, who could benefit from payouts, according to Pew Research Center polling.
But only 18 percent of whites — who would shoulder an extra tax burden — support them.