Joaquin and Julian Castro discuss politics, future of Texas


Mikaela Locklear

Twin politicians Julian and Joaquin Castro discussed Texas politics with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs on Tuesday evening. The brothers covered topics such as Medicaid, medical costs and gun control.

Amanda Voeller

This article was corrected after its original posting. Because of a reporting error, the article misstated the number of uninsured Texans. About 28 percent of Texans are uninsured.

The future of the Democratic Party might be right here in the red state of Texas. San Antonio’s twin politicians U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, and San Antonio mayor Julian Castro spent Tuesday evening at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs discussing their party’s role in Texas politics.

The Castro brothers lobbied Monday at the Capitol for an extension of Medicaid, two hours after Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn denounced the extension.

Texas Tribune Editor-in-Chief and CEO Evan Smith said about 28 percent of Texans are currently uninsured, and Julian Castro said there are millions of unpaid ambulance fees in San Antonio.

In addition to raising concern over medical costs, Julian Castro said Gov. Perry has not been properly prioritizing investments. Julian Castro said Gov. Perry should not have vetoed a tax initiative to increase funding to San Antonio preschools.

Joaquin Castro said Texas and Alaska were the only states to decline to compete in Race to the Top, a program that offered states money to come up with the best practices to increase innovation in K-12 education.

“It was, I think, a missed opportunity to set national standards with other states, to really come onto some new ideas and innovative policies,” Joaquin said.

The interview was followed by audience questions. In response to a question, Julian Castro said the electoral college is fine the way it is. On the other hand, he said that eliminating the Electoral College would be an opportunity for direct democracy.

“There’s nothing more powerful than when folks themselves are motivated to participate in democratic process,” Julian Castro said.

Julian and Joaquin Castro described their positions on gun control during the talk.

Joaquin Castro said he thinks changes regarding guns can be made while still supporting the second amendment. Julian Castro said high-capacity magazines carry the element of surprise, which is not good public policy, but reasonable requirements can be put in place in certain situations, such as for self defense.

Joaquin Castro also discussed immigration and said that currently the net migration rate between America and Mexico is approximately zero because of the struggling U.S. economy, the increase of border patrol agents and a booming Mexican economy.

“This is the moment that we should do comprehensive reform,” Joaquin Castro said.

JuliaCastro said he thinks America is positioned to succeed in the next century as long as the country improves education. In order to do that, America must build up an infrastructure of opportunity, according to Joaquin Castro.

Julian and Joaquin Castro first became interested in politics in 1994 when they ran for, and won, positions in the student senate at Stanford University, according to Julian.