I agree with you on that shift and the messaging around it being interesting, though I think an important component of it is the ability for it to be both, and marketed so-to-speak as both.
Since while the policy itself may be racially neutral, poverty is not racially neutral—and a large part of that is the ripple effect from slavery and the forms of systemic racism that followed it. So it makes sense to focus on class as an avenue to determine reparations, since the effects and benefits of those systems manifest as wealth for different people.
I honestly think it’s a pretty elegant solution, because ideally this system would take the most from those who benefited and continue to benefit most from those systems, and it seems like it would close the gap substantially without raising resentment among poor or working class people of other races (and no I do not just mean white people)
Edit: adding a longer bit here because I feel like that last bit might be misconstrued or misinterpreted.
Part of the reason I like this idea so much and that I brought up that final point is that my work background is in education, and specifically college admissions, which has one of (if not) the most publicized affirmative action systems in the US. This system has the same goals as this proposal but uses the opposite avenue—it is entirely racial, and is in a sense a reversed attempt to solve that wealth gap. And that works… a bit! It definitely makes it a more equitable system for what are considered “underrepresented minorities” (usually black and Hispanic applicants).
However, in not grounding itself in class, it’s still hugely ineffective for working and lower class students in those groups, because wealth is incredibly privileging in this process (as it is in pretty much every area of life in this country). They’re still not going to be given a fair shake over wealthier students with similar backgrounds—who, because of that wealth, are fighting against less stringent barriers. At the same time, it completely passes over working class kids in other groups, who feel that wealth gap even more harshly. While this is a lot of misinformation about “overrepresented minorities” (specifically Asian-Americans) and their reactions to such proposals (many of the lawsuits against AA policies have been funded by right-wing lobbying firms and PACs), it’s hard to look at the numbers I’ve seen and feel that anything is equitable about how they’re treated in this system, especially when it’s also heavily exacerbated by class divides. There is clear resentment there, which is probably—judging by the way the winds are blowing right now—going to fully torpedo the system as it currently exists.
So that’s my thinking behind the benefits of a system that is class-based, at least in part. I would like to see other things taken into account in Booker’s proposal, but I think it would ultimately end up being more effective than the closest analog I can see to a race-based reparations system.