Obama BFF Deval Patrick Flip-Flops, Now Supports Reparations

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Written by Dana Sanchez
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Presidential candidate Deval Patrick says he’ll support the H.R. 40 commission to study reparations. He proposes lifting barriers to wealth in his Equity Agenda for Black Americans. The former Massachusetts governor is pictured in New York on Jan. 21, 2020 describing his mother’s attempt to visit him in Africa when he worked as a young man at the Council on Foreign Relations. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Democratic presidential candidate Deval Patrick, who was recently quoted saying “I don’t think so” when asked about supporting the proposed H.R. 40 bill to study reparations, is now on board.

The former Massachusetts governor’s “Equity Agenda for Black Americans,” says he supports forming a commission as a first step toward reparations.

Aides said Patrick was prepared to go beyond supporting a commission and offer explicit support for federal reparations, Axios reported.

Patrick is one of two remaining non-white candidates in the Democratic presidential primary. About 75 percent of Black Americans support cash reparations, but white Americans are overwhelmingly opposed, according to a 2019 Gallup poll.

Before parachuting into the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary, Patrick looked to former President Barack Obama for advice. They have close ties, Time reported. Patrick gave up a job as a political contributor for CBS News when he announced his presidential run.

“Since entering the race late, in November 2019, Patrick has struggled to get his campaign off the ground and hasn’t yet qualified for a debate,” Alexi McCammond wrote for Axios. “Backing reparations could help him to build name recognition and support among black voters, a key constituency in the Democratic Party.”

Patrick’s campaign said he would discuss his agenda on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the NAACP King Day celebration in South Carolina.

When asked about signing H.R. 40, Patrick previously said, “I don’t think so … First of all, I think reparations are right, but I don’t think they mean a thing without reconciliation,” according to Wall Street Journal reporter Sabrina Siddiqui.

Patrick’s agenda includes lifting barriers to wealth and opportunities for Black Americans, The Hill reported. This includes closing the opportunity gap between Black students and their peers by investing in public school teachers, universal pre-k and subsidized early child care. 

Patrick wants to invest in communities targeted by redlining with affordable housing and expanded rent-to-own options in public and private housing. He also wants incubators in historically undeserved communities to give entrepreneurs and small business owners access to capital, mentoring and workforce training.He proposes adding “a low cost or no cost” public option to the Affordable Care Act, focusing on mental health care, and conducting more research into racial disparities that occur within the health care system “including cultural competence training for providers.”

Patrick wants to combat voter suppression and restore voting rights for parolees. And he proposes adding a low-cost or no-cost public option to the Affordable Care Act. He proposes focusing on mental health care and conducting more research into racial disparities in the health care system.

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A majority of current and former 2020 Democratic candidates said they support a commission to study reparations including Tom Steyer. Only Marianne Williamson, who has since dropped out of the race, put a dollar amount on her plan and proposed starting reparations now, according to Axios.

There are no numbers attached to Patrick’s reparations plan, an omission certain to raise questions about its viability, Axios reported.

However, Patrick spokeswoman Aleigha Cavalier said the campaign will release a tax plan “soon” outlining how to pay for his plans. That will include changing capital gains tax and increasing corporate and estate taxes.

Patrick was the second elected Black governor in U.S. history, serving as Massachusetts governor for two terms from 2007 to 2015. Before becoming governor, he was was a civil rights lawyer and also worked for Bain Capital.