The Corner

Politics & Policy

Reparations Are Political Suicide, and Joe Biden Knows It

President Joe Biden turns from the podium after speaking to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., April 28, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters)

H.R. 40, the reparations bill, is DOA. Per Politico:

As a candidate, Biden said he supported a commission on reparations. But the administration has yet to endorse the actual bill. After his speech Tuesday, the president met with the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who brought up the need for H.R. 40, which is named after the “40 acres and a mule” promise that now symbolizes the lack of support formerly enslaved people received from the federal government. According to those involved in the conversations, Biden let them down gently.

“He didn’t disagree with what we’re doing,” said Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), the 2nd vice chair of the CBC. “He did talk about his plate [being] full with trying to get the infrastructure bill passed and that he really wanted to make sure that he could get that through before he took on anything else.”

Ouch.

H.R. 40, note, would not spend any money on reparations. It would simply create a commission to look into spending money on reparations. If Joe Biden is against even that at this early point in his presidency, then he’s going to be against the idea at every single point in his presidency. The next few months are going to be taken up with attempt to spend trillions of dollars on “infrastructure,” and, after that, the midterm election season will be upon us. In a cosmic sense, Biden may not “disagree with” what the CBC is doing. In practical terms, though, he’s running away from them as fast as he possibly can — and, in so doing, killing the idea dead for at least the rest of his tenure.

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