Biden Federal Reserve board nominee has backed reparations

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Biden Federal Reserve board nominee has backed reparations

One of President Biden’s recent nominees to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors has repeatedly called for black Americans to receive reparations for years of economic discrimination and slavery, according to a report on Monday. 

Biden announced the nomination of Lisa Cook, a Michigan State University economics professor, on Jan. 14. If confirmed, Cook would be the first black woman to be part of the seven-person board.

“Everybody benefited from slavery. Everybody,”​ ​Cook​ ​said in a September 2020 “EconTalk” podcast​, Fox Business reported​. 

“So, I think that we absolutely need some sort of reckoning with that. There are many proposals on the table to study the possibility of reparations, many economic proposals being put forward, and I think they should all be taken seriously​,” she said. 

Biden said during the 2020 campaign that he backs the study of paying reparations and has also voiced support for a House bill that would create a panel to consider the matter, as well as the effects discriminatory polices have had upon generations of former slaves and their descendants.

​Cook spoke about the House bill last March at the University of California’s Haas School of Business.

Reparations sign.
Lisa Cook has repeatedly called for black Americans to receive reparations for years of economic discrimination and slavery.
Joshua Lott/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“One thing I do support is H.R. 40, which would put in place a commission to study this. I think that’s absolutely what needs to be done,” she said. “It’s difficult not to comment on a particular plan because there could be many different plans to achieve the kinds of reparations that [two authors] are suggesting.”​

But critics of reparations argue there is no mechanism for fairly distributing payments. They also claim the compensation isn’t needed because of advances in racial equality over recent decades.

“Having this conversation right now, when racism has never been a less significant problem in America, is mind-boggling​,” conservative radio host Larry Elder ​told a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the issue last year. Elder went on to note that reparations were being considered “​13 years after we elected, and then re-elected, the first ​black president of the United States.”

Lisa Cook.
“Everybody benefited from slavery. Everybody,”​ ​Lisa Cook said in 2020.
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“I can’t imagine a more divisive, polarizing or unjust measure than one that would, by government force, require people who never owned slaves to pay reparations to those who never were slaves based not on anything they’d done, but because of what race they were born,” ​​​agreed Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.).

Cook has also come out in support of “bail funds,” in which money is pooled to post bail for arrested persons, Fox News reported. The funds were widely used during the summer 2020 riots following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Cook also served on the Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute at the Minneapolis Fed, an advisory ​board accused by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) of creating work “heavily laden with political and value judgments” and engaging in improper “political advocacy,” according to Fox News.

“The Minneapolis Fed increasingly has focused on politically charged causes, like racial justice activism, that are wholly unrelated to the Federal Reserve’s statutory mandate,” Toomey said in a 2021 letter. 

Biden​ praised Cook as a “talented economist with decades of experience working on a broad range of economic issues​,” ​in a statement announcing her nomination.

The president added that Cook and her fellow nominees “will bring much needed expertise, judgement, and leadership to the Federal Reserve while at the same time bringing a diversity of thought and perspective never seen before on the Board of Governors.”

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