Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Pressure On Hillary To Pick A Progressive Running Mate Mounts


Rosie would have been the better choice

Few people outside the Beltway and San Antonio, where he was mayor, have ever heard of Julián Castro, the centrist Democrat Clinton picked as her running mate over a year ago. (It's supposed to be a surprise so... shhhhhhhhh.) Anyway, once she settled on Castro she asked him to get a tutor and learn to speak passable español-- he already had one, a Jewish lady from Laredo-- and she told Obama to give him some cabinet position to raise his stature. (His twin brother, Joaquín, is a New Dem congressman and vigorous Hillary surrogate.) They figured he wouldn't be able to screw anything up if they made him Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He's been told to stop telling reporters that "Joaquín and I got into Stanford because of affirmative action. I scored 1210 on my SATs, which was lower than the median matriculating student. But I did fine in college and in law school. So did Joaquín. I’m a strong supporter of affirmative action because I’ve seen it work in my own life." His appeal to fellow Hispanic voters may be limited by his own assimilation. He's the son of Rosie Castro, an inspiring activist who helped found La Raza but he supports "free" trade, including NAFTA, advocates an energy policy that includes fossil fuels, believes in balanced budgets and refers to David Souter as his ideal Supreme Court justice. Hillary's kind of Democrat.
Castro “has all the assets to become the next favorite son,” is how John A. Garcia, a political-science professor at the University of Arizona, puts it. “He has an elite education, which has given him a national network, and a quiet, serious public persona that appeals to a lot of younger Hispanic voters,” Garcia says. “People look at him and say, ‘Finally, we have somebody who won’t screw up.’ Of course, he’s still young, and he might be too good to be true, but if I were betting on the next national Hispanic political leader, I’d bet on Julián.”

In 1984, Mexican-American political activists were thrilled when Walter Mondale publicly considered Cisneros for the Democratic vice-presidential nomination. But second place no longer seems such a great prize. “In 1984, there were 20 million Hispanics in America,” according to the political activist Antonio Gonzalez, who heads the William C. Velasquez Institute. “Today, we are 50 million, and more and more people are registering to vote.” Who they will vote for and what issues will cement their party loyalty is one of the great questions of American politics. This year Democrats hope to exploit the ire among Hispanics over the new G.O.P.-inspired law in Arizona that empowers local police forces to crack down on illegal immigrants.
This week, progressive groups shined a different kind of light on Julian-boy-wonder than he's been used to. I got this from Rootstrikers, for example, yesterday:
Imagine if the federal government was helping big bankers on Wall Street profit off the foreclosure crisis they helped create.

Sadly, you don’t have to imagine.

Under Secretary Julian Castro, the federal housing department has operated an egregious Wall Street giveaway.

The program is supposed to stabilize communities by transferring overdue mortgage loans to institutions that will help homeowners avoid foreclosure-- instead, 98% of recent mortgage sales have gone straight to Wall Street, and at a HUGE discount.

Today, we’re launching a major campaign at with partners representing some of the hardest hit communities. We’re demanding that Secretary Castro stops selling our communities to Wall Street and focuses on helping people stay in their homes.

Housing advocates have been advocating for fixes to this “Distressed Assets Stabilization Program” for years.

Big names have spoken up too-- last year, Sen. Elizabeth Warren called out the department for “lining up with the Wall Street speculators.”

Under pressure, last April Secretary Castro’s Department of Housing and Urban Development promised to reform the program and help homeowners avoid foreclosure by selling more overdue mortgage loans to nonprofit community organizations rather than Wall Street banks.

Those were empty promises. The two most recent sales under Secretary Castro have sent 98% of the mortgages straight to Wall Street-- and at rock-bottom prices.

A measly 1% got sold to nonprofit community organizations, which can better work with homeowners to figure out a plan to keep them in their homes.

Just last week, Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Raul Grijalva sent a letter to Secretary Castro calling for fundamental reforms of HUD’s mortgage sales.

Today, we’re joining that effort alongside a national coalition of 14 housing advocacy, civil rights, and progressive groups, from to the Working Families Party to

And here’s another reason our pressure is likely to work:

Julian Castro is widely rumored to be a likely vice-presidential nominee. But becoming vice president will be tough if he doesn’t first prove he’s willing to take on Wall Street, and not just pad their profit margins.

Politico's Edward-Issac Dovere asserted yesterday that the dozen groups stirring the pot on Castro were sending a message to Hillary. "They’re just as open with their political aims," he wrote: "to publicly discredit Castro as a progressive, latching onto the mortgage issue to seed enough suspicion to keep him off Clinton’s shortlist.
“It’s a situation where the Clinton campaign wants Castro to be a major asset to her chances of winning the White House, and unless he changes his position related to foreclosures and loans, he’ll be a toxic asset to the Clinton campaign,” said Matt Nelson, the managing director for, the nation’s largest Latino organizing group that focuses on social justice.

“All year, we’ve seen the candidates tripping over themselves to show how tough they’ll be on Wall Street,” said Kurt Walters, the campaign manager for Root Strikers, a 501(c4) group of Demand Progress and its 2 million affiliated activists, who is planning to deliver the petitions to Castro’s office when they’re ready. “Then to turn around and take a step backwards on that exact question, and put someone who has been doing the exact opposite-- I think it would be tough for a lot of people who care about Wall Street accountability to get excited about that pick.”

...“If Secretary Castro fails to create significant momentum in terms of stopping the sale of mortgages to Wall Street, then I do think it disqualifies him. But there’s time left on the clock,” said Jonathan Westin, the director of New York Communities for Change, which was formed out of the remains of the community activist group ACORN. “I think a lot of the progressive movement would not be in support of a Castro ticket if he fails to make traction here.”

...Maurice Weeks, an Atlanta-based organizer who works on housing justice in communities of color for the Center for Popular Democracy/CPD Action, said that Castro’s lack of action at HUD is breeding more gentrification and suffering in a way that should make blacks and Latinos pay attention.

...[Color of Change's Brandi] Collins said this complaint about Castro’s leadership is reflective of a whole range of issues her organization has had with what members say is the secretary’s closeness to Wall Street and lack of attention to black and brown communities.

“If he’s not showing up for our communities while the cameras aren’t there, we don’t know that he’ll show up when he’s on his way to the White House,” Collins said.

According to Julia Gordon, formerly at the Center for American Progress and currently an executive vice president at the National Community Stabilization Trust, the coalition may have a point-- if only because it is taking advantage of opaque accounting at HUD. Gordon said she’s met often with HUD about these issues but hasn’t seen the kind of progress she’d like or evidence that the program matches the claims that officials make.

“We know it’s been good for investors. According to HUD, it’s been good for the fund, although the level of detail that they release to account for it is minimal. We really don’t know how good it’s been for the homeowners, and that’s where this wave of protests is coming from,” Gordon said... “Both HUD and [the Federal Housing Finance Agency] have let down communities by not focusing on what they want the buyer to do with these,” Gordon said, arguing that they’ve been focused instead on offloading the debt. “They’re just like, ‘Get it away from me.’”

The idea that Castro would be the first Latino on a national ticket means something, Nelson said, though he argued that this only adds to the burden for the secretary to show leadership on the mortgage issue in the way progressives want at this moment of added attention to their concerns.

Nelson said that at Presente, they think of it like a parable-- it doesn’t make it any better to be hurt if the hurt is coming from one of their own.

There are two trees in a forest, Nelson said, and they see an ax coming to chop them down. “Don’t worry,” says one tree to the other, “the handle’s one of us.”

“Basically,” Nelson said, “we’re fighting to make sure Castro isn’t the handle.”
I'd guess Elizabeth Warren would be Bernie's first choice and that, given his age, she'd be the nominee for president in 2020. What a one-two punch that would be! Imagine a first woman president that is going to make voters think, we should get more like that!

Goal Thermometer

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At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Cujo359 said...

Castro seems like the perfect running mate for Clinton-they certainly see eye-to-eye on Wall Street.

I tend to ignore running mate issues,and I suppose this is a good example of why.If Clinton were to choose a progressive running mate,I would be no more inclined to vote for her than I am now,either in the primary or the general election. Picking someone who is an active member of Congress effectively removes that person from any real chance to affect policy,so I don't really see it as a plus,anyway.


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