John Kasich, Julián Castro Find Common Ground on the New Economy


Former Governor of Ohio and Obama HUD Secretary discuss government’s role in the economic recovery, job market for college graduates and more at University of Notre Dame

South Bend, IN April 15, 2021- On Wednesday night, Common Ground Committee (CGC), a nonpartisan, citizen-led organization devoted to reducing political polarization in the US, hosted its 14th public forum, which brought together former Ohio Governor  John Kasich and former HUD Sec. Julián Castro. The forum, titled Finding Common Ground on the New Economy, was held at the University of Notre Dame in front of a limited capacity audience. The forum was also broadcast virtually via Zoom and live-streamed on CGC’s Facebook and YouTube pages. The event was presented in partnership with the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy and BridgeND, the Notre Dame chapter of BridgeUSA.

Over the course of the evening, Gov. Kasich and Sec. Castro discussed the job market and the government’s role in setting the stage for an economic recovery amidst a rapidly changing landscape shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The nation longs for a return to normalcy, but that goal is harder to realize when we choose partisanship over progress,” said Bruce Bond, co-founder and CEO of CGC. “Last night, Gov. Kasich and Sec. Castro showed our audience and our leaders that real solutions can be attained if we make the commitment to put politics aside and find common ground.”

During the event, Gov. Kasich and Sec. Castro found points of common ground on a number of issues, including:

  • Infrastructure is a critical need in this country and Democrats and Republicans should be able to get behind the idea of investing in housing, roads, and bridges and technology needs.
  • The government should take a renewed look at Opportunity Zones so that there is greater capital investment in lower-income areas. But it should also look at eliminating ineffective corporate loopholes and subsidies.
  • High school students should be given the chance to earn college credits to help them get a leg-up in getting into their desired universities, and education institutions need to work on becoming more efficient. Programs that provide education and training opportunities that can be created through public/private partnerships should be encouraged.
  • Wealth inequality is a serious problem, but any program, including Universal Basic Income that would help people escape from economic hardship must thread the needle so that people are encouraged to work.

Kasich served as the 69th governor of Ohio from 2011-2019, and helped spur the creation of 500,000 new jobs in the state during his tenure. He is also a Senior Political Commentator for CNN, where he appears across a variety of programs. During the event, he discussed President Biden’s infrastructure plan noting that while there are aspects of the plan both sides can get behind, it shouldn’t be “rammed through the United States Senate on party line vote.” He also lamented the state of today’s politics.

“If Sec. Castro and I sat down together, we could come to agreement on issues like housing,” said Gov. Kasich. “The problem in politics today is everyone is in this to bang each other around. We’re not in that anymore so we can be pals.”

Prior to serving as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama from 2014-2017, Castro was Mayor of San Antonio. Under his leadership, America’s seventh largest city became a leader in the 21st century economy. Last night he spoke about the need to revamp the U.S. tax system in a way that benefits middle and lower-income communities — a point where he found agreement from Gov. Kasich in the form of Opportunity Zones. He also agreed with Gov. Kasich that the culture of our country needs to change.

Responding to Gov. Kasich’s call for the nation to shift away from a culture of “I” to one of “we”, Sec. Castro responded, “I think where we can find common ground is that we need to change that culture and find more unity in our country. We can tackle things like redistricting reform and ending Citizens United.”

The forum was moderated by Kelly Evans, host of CNBC’s The Exchange and co-host of Power Lunch. She joined the network in February 2012 as an on-air correspondent, reporting across CNBC’s Business Day programming.

This was CGC’s second live virtual forum following a discussion last year about the documentary Stars and Strife with David Brooks, Leon Panetta, Hawk Newsome, Katherine Gehl and David Smick. CGC previously partnered with Notre Dame and the Rooney Center in 2019 for a forum featuring Secretaries of State John Kerry and Condoleezza Rice. By demonstrating how people of differing views can find agreement without compromising core values, CGC aims to inspire the public, political leaders and the media to seek common ground, increase civic engagement and reduce polarization.

For interview requests, please contact Zachary Halper at or 862-224-3233


About Common Ground Committee

Common Ground Committee (CGC) ( is a nonpartisan, citizen-led organization that inspires action on polarizing issues by bringing prominent leaders with opposing views together in public forums to find common ground. Since its founding in 2009, CGC has held 14 forums featuring panelists who have reached over 200 points of consensus. Panelists have included such notables as David Petraeus, Susan Rice, John Kerry, Condoleezza Rice, Michael Steele, Donna Brazile and Larry Kudlow, exploring issues ranging from race and income inequality to foreign policy. CGC is also responsible for the “Let’s Find Common Ground” podcast and the Common Ground Scorecard, which scores politicians and candidates for public office on their likelihood to find common ground with the opposite party. Free of political agenda and financial influence, CGC has a singular focus on bringing light, not heat, to public discourse.

Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy

The mission of the Francis and Kathleen Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy is to examine politics and policy making in the United States—leaving Notre Dame’s distinctive imprint on the study of American democracy. With a grounding in Notre Dame’s Catholic mission, the Center facilitates research on the critical issues facing America’s democratic system, and encourages Notre Dame’s students to be engaged in both civic and political life.



BridgeUSA believes good governance starts with constructive political discussion. The organization works with America’s future leaders on college campuses to foster spaces wherein a diverse range of ideas can engage one another through the practice of responsible discourse. BridgeUSA has chapters at colleges across the country, including University of Notre Dame.



The University of Notre Dame

Founded in 1842, the University of Notre Dame is a private, nonprofit Catholic university. One of America’s leading undergraduate teaching institutions, Notre Dame also has been at the forefront in research and scholarship. The aerodynamics of glider flight, the transmission of wireless messages, and the formulae for synthetic rubber were pioneered at the University. Today researchers are achieving breakthroughs in astrophysics, radiation chemistry, environmental sciences, tropical disease transmission, peace studies, cancer, robotics, and nanoelectronics.