‘Model for the nation’: California Democrats pushing reparations despite overwhelming public opposition

Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, September 12, 2023

Democrats in California are moving full steam ahead with their plans for cash reparations for slavery despite overwhelming opposition from the public.

A UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, co-sponsored by The Los Angeles Times, found that 59 percent of voters oppose cash payments compared with just 28 percent who support the idea. More than 4 in 10 voters “strongly” opposed the idea.

“It has a steep uphill climb, at least from the public’s point of view,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the IGS poll.

The “public’s point of view” does not seem to be an impediment to the state’s Democrat-dominated Reparations Task Force, which the LA Times noted was created with the “goal of establishing a path to reparations that could serve as a model for the nation.”

This summer, after two years of deliberations, the task force sent a final report and recommendations to the state Capitol, where Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Democratic-led Legislature will decide how Golden State taxpayers will foot the bill for something they had nothing to do with.

Democrat state Sen. Steven Bradford, who was a member of the task force, said he wasn’t surprised by the poll results: “It speaks to the miseducation of most Americans when it comes to slavery and the impact that it had on this country and the impact that it still has on African Americans today.”

The task force recommended providing cash payments to all descendants of slaves based on health disparities, mass incarceration, and over-policing and housing discrimination that have adversely affected black residents, the LA Times reported on Sept. 10.

The task force’s recommendations for reparations go far beyond cash payments. The task force also recommended policies to end the death penalty, pay fair market value for jail and prison labor, restore voting rights to all formerly and currently incarcerated people, and apply rent caps to “historically redlined ZIP Codes” that disadvantaged black residents.

For health disparities, the task force recommends $13,619 for each year of residency in California — a figure that was derived by comparing life expectancy between black non-Hispanic and white non-Hispanic Californians. To compensate for mass incarceration and over-policing, the task force recommends eligible descendants receive $2,352 for each year of residency in California during the war on drugs from 1971 to 2020. Compensation for housing discrimination totaled $3,378 for each year between 1933 and 1977 that a descendant resided in California.

In the Berkeley poll, when voters who oppose reparations were asked why, the two main reasons cited most often were that “it’s unfair to ask today’s taxpayers to pay for wrongs committed in the past,” picked by 60 percent of voters; and “it’s not fair to single out one group for reparations when other racial and religious groups have been wronged in the past,” chosen by 53 percent.

Only 19 percent of those polled said their reason was that the proposal would cost the state too much, suggesting that money alone is not the main objection.

Among Democrats, 43 percent favored and 41 percent opposed cash reparations. Republicans were strongly against the proposal at 90 percent with only 5 percent in favor. Independents were 65 percent opposed and 22 percent in favor.

DiCamillo said the poll results suggest Californians may be open to reparations in different forms.

Despite widespread opposition to cash payments, 60 percent of the overall respondents said they thought that the legacy of slavery is affecting the position of the state’s black residents today. Another 31 percent said there’s no impact at all.

“The idea of cash reparations is really what’s being strongly opposed,” DiCamillo said. “There could be other solutions that could be much more warmly received.”

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