Biden’s $2 Trillion COVID Bill Made Inflation Worse. Jamaal Bowman Wants To Spend Seven Times as Much on Reparations.

'Where did that money come from? We spent it into existence,' congressman says of Biden's pandemic response

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
January 18, 2024

New York Democratic congressman Jamaal Bowman is citing the federal government's COVID-era spending—which drove up inflation—as proof that Congress can pass a $14 trillion reparations package without raising taxes, saying the money can simply be "spent into existence."

Bowman touted the package, which he cosponsored last year alongside fellow left-wing lawmakers Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Cori Bush (D., Mo.), in an interview with the Journal News. Addressing concerns over how to pay for the package, Bowman cited the government's response to COVID, saying Congress can "invest the same way in reparations without raising taxes on anyone."

"When COVID was destroying us, we invested in the American people in a way that kept the economy afloat," Bowman said. "Where did that money come from? We spent it into existence."

Bowman's comments come as Americans continue to grapple with high inflation, which edged up in December thanks to rising food and housing prices. President Joe Biden's nearly $2 trillion American Rescue Plan, which Bowman voted for, contributed to those price hikes. Still, Bowman said he had no reservations about spending seven times as much money—and adding to the $34 trillion national debt—to pay roughly $333,000 to every black American, given that the money could be paid out "over 5 or 10 or 20 years."

"You could take that $333,000 and break it up into monthly checks over X amount of time," Bowman said in his Journal News interview. "There are creative ways to do the right thing and do what needs to be done."

Bowman's fellow New York lawmakers disagree. Reps. Mondaire Jones (D.) and Mike Lawler (R.) oppose the bill, as does Westchester County executive George Latimer (D.), who is challenging Bowman. Latimer dismissed Bowman's proposal as a "one-house bill with no chance of passing," a reference to the fact that the legislation does not have a sponsor in the Senate and would therefore not advance to the upper chamber even if it passed the House.

"It is clearly a political statement more than anything else," Latimer said.

Public finance economist and Heritage Foundation research fellow E.J. Antoni criticized Bowman's bill for a different reason—its exorbitant price tag. The estimated $14 trillion, Antoni noted, is more than half of America's 2022 GDP.

"The federal government doesn't have enough money to pay its current bills, let alone more spending that would exceed well over half the nation's entire economy," he told the Washington Free Beacon.

Bowman—who did not return a request for comment—nonetheless argued that his reparations package is morally necessary because "the economy wouldn't exist in the way it does today if slavery hadn't built it," prompting the need to invest in the black community. Job Creators Network president and CEO Alfredo Ortiz dismissed that argument.

"Big government policies like Bowman's reparations package hurt the very minorities they intend to help," he told the Free Beacon. "The COVID spending blowout is a prime example, as it led to historic inflation that has disproportionately hurt minorities who tend to have lower and more fixed incomes."

"The best way to close racial economic divides," he continued, "is through increased entrepreneurship … not a reparations package that will further destroy the dollar and depress labor force participation."