Bankole: Warren’s message on race matters

Bankole Thompson

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has been making arguments about equalizing the playing field for all.

Warren is not a noise maker as some would want you to believe. Instead she has emerged as a salient voice making cogent and intelligent arguments about our unequal society and the remedies to address those problems.

And it’s not socialism or communism for those who like to throw those words around to distract from the real conversation regarding this nation’s deep inequities.

Warren’s 2020 message is clear: Reform the financial system and give struggling families an opportunity to thrive and make a decent living, Thompson says.

Warren’s 2020 message is clear: Reform the financial system and give struggling families an opportunity to thrive and make a decent living. She understands Wall Street better than any of the other current Democratic candidates because she studied it and has been proposing regulations that would avoid another financial collapse by exposing the dangers of subprime lending.

It was her ideas that led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which was established in response to the 2008 financial crisis.

“In 2003, I called out subprime lenders for tricking unsuspecting families — especially families of color — into refinancing into overpriced subprime mortgages,” Warren said last month. “In 2004 and 2005, I warned that families were getting deeper into debt and hanging on only by borrowing against their homes, which put them in a vulnerable position if costs rose or a family member lost a job.”

She added, “In 2006, I flagged that foreclosure rates were starting to go up, but that the mortgage lenders were still churning out loans because they had passed on the risk of defaults to investors in the form of mortgage-backed securities. Those trends — shady subprime lending, rising household debt, a mortgage market where lenders didn’t bear the risk of their loans — set the stage for the 2008 crisis.”

She is correct.

In fact, Warren wrote an instructive paper in 2004 published by Washington and Lee University in which she explained in detail how “homeownership fails to translate into greater economic security” for black and Hispanic families, while also spotlighting how bankruptcy has had an adverse impact on minorities no matter their educational level because of job losses, medical conditions and other factors.

“Bankruptcy filings are far more likely among Hispanic and black homeowners than among white homeowners. Filing rates among white homeowners are about 6.1 per thousand. Hispanic homeowners are nearly three times more likely to file for bankruptcy, filing at a rate of about 16.4 per thousand. Black homeowners are at even greater risk. About 31.7 per thousand black homeowners file for bankruptcy in a single year-a rate that is more than five times that of white homeowners,” Warren wrote.

But this is not the kind of conversation liberal Democrats who are coalescing around former Vice President Joe Biden want to have. They want to talk about the symptoms of the crisis and not the root causes. Until you attack the underlying issues of a problem, you are simply engaging in rigmarole.

Warren just called for a repeal of the destructive 1994 crime bill, which Biden helped pass that led to mass incarceration in the black community.

“Our system is the result of the dozens of choices we’ve made — choices that together stack the deck against the poor and the disadvantaged,” Warren said. “Simply put, we have criminalized too many things. We send too many people to jail. We keep them there for too long. We do little to rehabilitate them. We spend billions, propping up an entire industry that profits from mass incarceration.”

The question facing Democratic candidates hoping to clinch their party’s nomination is whether they have the requisite solutions to confront the deepening economic crisis in America.