I recently wrote a column on how Democrats in California are being challenged to put their money where their mouth has been on reparations. For years, Democrats have insisted that reparations are a moral imperative. Now, however, the bill has come due and advocates in a Wednesday hearing confronted members of the California Reparations Task Force in asking “where’s the money?” Some are now demanding more than $5 million per resident as Reparations Board member Lisa Holder of the Equal Justice Society promised that the committee’s “recommendations will be breathtaking.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) created the Reparations Task Force, which just reached its own recommendations for $223,000 per person. Others have insisted the figure should be $350,000 for individuals and another $250,000 for Black-owned businesses. One California politician insisted the figure needs to be $800,000 per person, reflecting the average cost of a home in the state. In the meantime, a similar board has recommended $5 million payments to eligible residents of San Fransisco.
Notably, California’s law expressly states that this money should not be treated as compensation for federal reparations. That raises the question of whether a resident could receive $5 million from San Francisco, $223,000 from the state, and additional payments from the federal government.
Some congressional Democrats have pushed for similar federal reparations and passed a bill out of the House Judiciary Committee in 2021 that failed to receive a floor vote. BET founder Robert Johnson has called for $14 trillion in federal reparations.
In the hearing on Wednesday, the growing expectation and impatience was evident among witnesses. Yet, some reparations advocates in cities with even smaller reparation programs admit that they do not know how cities will fund the payouts.
One witness described the payments of $5 million per person as “nothing” and “too little.” The correct figure was suggested as more like $7.6 million.
Reverend Tony Pierce asked “Where’s the money? Where’s the cash? Where’s the check?” “$5 million, San Francisco’s already made a move. $5 million is nothing.” Pierce mocked the notion of $5 million if it is “spread over 50 years would only amount to $100,000 year, and then with taxes, you’ll be lucky if you end up with $40,000 a year.” He also rejected the notion of $223,000 for housing as woefully inadequate.
For her part, Holder is pledging “breathtaking” reparation payments, including “monetary compensation to Black people who are descendants of enslaved and persecuted Black Americans.”
Those continued assurances are fueling demands for the money without further delay. After years of being told that the payments are moral imperatives, many are losing patience. In a prior hearing, one well-known California activist declared in a prior hearing that “It’s a debt that’s owed, we worked for free. We’re not asking; we’re telling you.”
Despite Gov. Newsom’s underestimating the state debt figures by billions, this bill has now come due and many critics are challenging the left to show that the prior pledges were not mere political opportunism or virtue signaling. California is set to face the true costs of these pledges and many are in no mood to haggle over price.
In other words, California Democrats may have finally reached the “show me the money” moment.