Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) has proposed a controversial $14 trillion reparations plan. This plan, aimed at addressing the historical injustices of slavery, has ignited a spectrum of opinions across the political landscape.
Bowman, a member of the influential “Squad,” articulated his vision for the plan in a recent interview with the Journal News. He emphasized that this ambitious initiative is financially feasible, drawing parallels to the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the space race. “When COVID was destroying us, we invested in the American people in a way that kept the economy afloat,” Bowman stated. He suggested that the government could similarly invest in reparations “without raising taxes on anyone,” raising questions about fiscal responsibility and government spending.
The Representative who couldn't tell the difference between a door opener and a fire alarm now wants the U.S. to give 14 trillion in reparations. Yea, good luck with that.
— PatriotSons (@Patriot_Sons) January 22, 2024
The proposed legislation, H.R. 414, spearheaded by Bowman and eight other leftist sponsors, seeks to establish moral and legal grounds for the U.S. to offer reparations. The bill purports to address not only the enslavement of Africans but also includes restitution for subsequent policies that marginalized Black Americans, covering a range of issues from housing discrimination to educational disparities.
One of the most striking aspects of Bowman’s plan is the sheer scale of the financial commitment. To put the $14 trillion figure into perspective, it dwarfs the federal government’s entire spending for the fiscal year 2022, which was $6.13 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury. This has led to discussions about the practicality and impact of such a significant financial undertaking on the nation’s economy.
Bowman proposes that the hefty sum could be distributed over several decades, breaking it down into more manageable payments. “Who says the $14 trillion needs to be paid out in one shot?” he queried, suggesting the possibility of “monthly checks over X amount of time.”
This proposal arrives on the heels of New York’s establishment of a commission to explore reparations, signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul. It also follows decades after a bill seeking to create a federal commission to study the issue.
Critically, however, the bill lacks sponsors in the Senate, highlighting the divided political landscape and the challenges ahead for such a proposal.
Bowman is best known nationally for his involvement in an incident often described as “alarmgate.” This incident involved Bowman pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge for setting off a false fire alarm in the Capitol. This action led to the evacuation of a congressional office building. Bowman, representing parts of New York City and its immediate suburbs, was reportedly trying to delay a key vote in the House when he triggered the alarm.
In a statement, Bowman admitted to activating the fire alarm, but claimed it was a mistake, stating he thought it would open a door he was trying to access. He expressed regret for the confusion and disruption caused. However, his explanation and subsequent handling of the situation have been met with skepticism. Some House Republicans have even called for his resignation.