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Report: Slavery reparations proposals could cost US more than $17 trillion

Academics suggest plans could be funded through new taxes or by issuing bonds

Zach Gibson/Getty Images

As the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil rights and Civil Liberties mulls legislation that would form a commission for exploring pricing and options for paying reparations to the descendants of slaves, Yahoo Finance conducted an analysis of existing proposals and came up with a cost range of $9 to $17.1 trillion.

What are the details?

Reporter Kristin Myers pulled the numbers from various academic and economic studies — tallying up the costs of unpaid wages to slaves, the impact of Jim Crow laws on African Americans, "and current discrimination that black people face in the labor market, health care system, or education and criminal justice systems."

After adjusting the amounts into today's dollars, Myers came up with the eye-popping reparations price tag, noting that "it's unclear how a sum as potentially as large as $17.1 trillion would be financed." She pointed to research conducted by Duke University public policy professor William Darity and UMass Amherst professor Dania Francis, which suggested the funds could be raised "through additional taxes, or by issuing bonds."

In an accompanying interview to her report, Myers said, "The big question isn't so much how much it is going to cost, but rather, who is going to be receiving reparations, and how exactly are reparations going to be paid out." She went on to add that H.R. 40 — the bill sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) — seeks to determine how many folks should receive compensation from tax payers, and current estimates put the number at roughly 30 million people.

Anything else?

The notion of slavery reparations has been floated for years, but recently reemerged for actual consideration as several Democratic presidential candidates have endorsed the idea. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and spiritual advisor Marianne Williamson have all come out in support of some sort of race-based restitution.

But the only candidate to lay out details has been Williamson, who set forth a proposal that would disburse $100 billion to beneficiaries over the course of a decade — a far cry from even the low range of $9 trillion estimated by Myers.

One last thing…
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