Making the Case to Clinton: Tim Kaine, Campaigning for VP, Calls For Deregulating Banks
Hillary Clinton campaigning with Tim Kaine (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP; source)
by Gaius Publius
The widely rumored Democratic candidates to be Clinton's VP include almost no one any Sanders voter or supporter cares to see chosen — Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, Obama Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Obama HUD Secretary Julián Castro, and Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez are among the most common names who have appeared in print, and of those, Kaine and Vilsack seem to be on the shortest of short lists.
Two names emerge from Clinton’s VP deliberations: Kaine and VilsackSenator Cory Booker, a name sometimes mentioned, is a friend of big banks and hedge funds. So is James Stavridis, a retired four-star Navy admiral who served as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO — you can imagine what progressives opposed to more war think about that. These names, however, are being included in these stories for completeness.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Sen. Timothy M. Kaine of Virginia have emerged as the leading candidates on a longer list of finalists Hillary Clinton is considering for her vice-presidential running mate, according to interviews with multiple Democrats with knowledge of her deliberations.
Although her list is not limited to those two, Clinton has spoken highly of both in recent days to friends and advisers as she closes in on an announcement that could come as soon as Friday.
A "sop" to progressives list (Norman Solomon's term) includes such names as Elizabeth Warren and "to a lesser extent" (again, Solomon's phrase) Sherrod ("I trust Clinton on trade") Brown. In my view neither is a viable candidate — Wall Street has already rejected Warren — and both would be wise not to damage their reputations more than they already have if the job were offered. The Sanders campaign has unmasked many, not the least these two.
Warren side note: As a Warren-does-herself-damage example, consider this from Politico (my emphasis): "'Elizabeth is all about leverage, and she used it,' a top Warren ally told me. 'The main thing, you know, is that she always thought Hillary was going to be the nominee, so that was where the leverage was.'" And worse: "Warren, several people in her orbit say, never really came close to endorsing the man many progressives consider to be her ideological soulmate. ... In early 2015, Warren sent a major signal that she would ultimately endorse Clinton...".
When Sanders supporters, all former "Ready For Warren" enthusiasts, read this, they go nuts. Their thinking: If Sanders had been this calculating, this lacking in courage, he would never even have run against such long odds. Or worse: Maybe this doesn't show Warren's lack of courage at all, but her lack of commitment to the broader vision that Sanders espoused.
Either way, the bloom is off the Warren rose for many progressives, likely for a long long time, and that may be an unfortunate change going forward. She's certainly seen to be reliable on her issue, but for perhaps too many strong Sanders supporters, that's it.
Tim Kaine Auditions to Be Clinton's Wall Street Fundraiser
Zach Carter, who's doing excellent work this cycle, has a profile of Kaine, one of the worst candidates the Democrats could anoint, in most progressives' opinion. Writing in Huffington Post, Carter notes this (my emphasis everywhere):
Tim Kaine Calls To Deregulate Banks As He Campaigns To Be Clinton's VPThe timing of this overt play could not be more calculating, perfectly tuned to Clinton's need for constant fundraising. As David Dayen points out in The Intercept:
WASHINGTON ― Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is on Hillary Clinton’s short list of potential vice presidential nominees. He’s also actively pushing bank deregulation this week as he campaigns for the job.
Kaine signed two letters on Monday urging federal regulators to go easy on banks ― one to help big banks dodge risk management rules, and another to help small banks avoid consumer protection standards.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is believed to be weighing Kaine among a handful of other potential VP choices. Her pick is widely viewed in Washington as a sign of her governing intentions. The former secretary of state has spent weeks attempting to woo progressive supporters of vanquished primary challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Choosing from one of the handful of names on her short list ― Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) or Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), for instance ― would signal that her camp is taking progressive concerns seriously.
Kaine, by contrast, is setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party. He has championed the Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] trade deal that both Sanders and Warren oppose, and he is now publicly siding with bank deregulation advocates at the height of Clinton’s veepstakes.
The big bank letter would help major firms including Capital One, PNC Bank and U.S. Bank, all of which control hundreds of billions of dollars in assets. Such large “regional banks,” Kaine writes, are being discriminated against based solely on the fact that they are so big. ...
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is expected to announce her vice presidential pick on Friday. Kaine, if selected, could now help woo fundraising dollars away from Republicans, because he’s able to point to his support for financial industry causes. The letters also show Hillary Clinton’s campaign how Kaine could be an asset with banking interests on the fundraising trail.Did you catch that? "Kaine... is setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party." That could have been the headline of this piece — right after "Making the Case to Clinton". The VP traditionally has a "hitman" role. If Kaine is Clinton's VP, guess who will be taking the hits.
More on Tim Kaine
A friend sent this handy list of other Kaine positions via email. On "clean coal":
"But these changes will not happen overnight and I respect the role traditional fossil fuel industries play in providing jobs and affordable fuel for Virginians. I support exploration off the coast of Virginia, as well as research in next generation cleaner-coal technology. In May 2014, I co-sponsored the Advanced Clean Coal Technology Investment in Our Nation (ACCTION) Act, legislation to stimulate large-scale federal and private sector investment to reduce carbon pollution through advanced clean coal technologies. I also support the development of offshore wind turbines and the new technologies that have enabled us to expand natural gas production."On removing the moratorium on offshore oil drilling:
“I have long believed that the moratorium on offshore drilling, based on a cost-benefit calculation performed decades ago, should be re-examined.”On taking money from Virginia utility companies:
Richmond (VA)-based power company Dominion gave Kaine $2,000 for travel to meetings of the Democratic Governors Association and Southern Governors Association and to watch George Mason University play in the NCAA Final Four in 2006. Kaine rode on Dominion’s jet because he missed the commercial flight he booked to attend a state legislator’s funeral. A regulated utility, Dominion lobbies the state on energy policy.Here's even more on Kaine's domestic and foreign policy from writer David Swanson:
Kaine was an anti-environmentalist pro-coal governor of Virginia, a supporter of the “right to work” (for less) law restricting union organizing in Virginia, and he is a supporter of corporate trade agreements including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and including fast-tracking the TPP. An extremely loyal Democrat, he nonetheless criticized Democrats in 2011 for proposing higher taxes on millionaires.On Iran:
Kaine supported a nuclear agreement with Iran, a diplomatic breakthrough arguably made possible by the departure of supreme militarist Clinton from the State Department. But Kaine backed President Barack Obama on that, as on everything else. To imagine that Kaine has challenged presidential war powers is to misread another part of his record.Affirming presidential "war powers":
Together with Senator John McCain, Kaine introduced the War Powers Consultation Act of 2014, which some falsely imagined to be a bill to strengthen Congressional war powers. It was not. The Constitution gives the power to declare war to Congress. ... The McCain/Kaine bill would repeal the [Congressional] War Powers Resolution, turn Congress into a toothless consulting firm, and arrange for a vote without consequences on “approval” of each war within 30 days of its start. Only if Congress voted down “approval” would it vote on “disapproval.” And if it passed “disapproval,” nothing would follow from that. This amounts to nothing less than unconstitutionally bestowing the power to make war on the president.On the other hand, with Kaine in the VP slot, she gets access to all that extra Wall Street money. Not nothing.
A Word about Tom Vilsack
Just to round out this examination, imagine Hillary Clinton choosing prime corporatist Tom Vilsack. All of this information comes via another friend:
1. Vilsack is as pro-Monsanto as an Agriculture Secretary can be. For example, Tom Philpott from 2011: "In a stunning reversal, USDA chief Vilsack greenlights Monsanto’s [GMO] alfalfa".
2. Vilsack is an anti-climate-science fan of "biomass" (burning trees, for example, in the form of "wood pellets") for energy production.
For example, in a letter Vilsack stated that "biomass generation provides significant greenhouse gas benefits" when in fact it does the opposite. According to the NRDC, Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, "Wood-burning power plants emit more carbon pollution at the smokestack than fossil-fueled plants for each unit of energy generated." Not to mention the tragic loss of the "de-carbonizing" effect that trees and other plants have in extracting CO2 from the air.
Calling the burning of biomass "carbon neutral" is a cruel, or cynical, joke. It defies simple logic. You can test that. Chop down a carbon-dioxide eating tree, burn it, and stand in the smoke. Now see if you think it's "carbon neutral" for the atmosphere. Anyone who touts biomass as a solution is saying, in effect, "I choose money over climate."
3. Vilsack favors granting "coal-mine exceptions" to companies seeking to mine in roadless old-growth forests (examples here and here).
4. Vilsack defends the massive and frequently cruel wildlife slaughter under a little-know USDA program.
5. Finally, when it comes to climate change, Vilsack is "not a scientist."
Are There Any Good Choices?
It's hard to say, but maybe not. Do you want to take even a semi-strong progressive out of the Senate? If that person became VP, would their voice go unheard? Yes, a progressive VP might improved Clinton's chances of election, which are not looking too good, by the way. But would a "progressive" VP make the Clinton administration, as a whole, more progressive?
On the other hand, the fact that the "short list" of candidates being leaked and touted includes so many bad choices already says a lot about what a Clinton cabinet will look like. Prepare for the worst, both in choices and in consequences, even electoral ones. Because if Clinton gives "a pronounced middle finger" (Norman Solomon's phrase) to the insurgent progressive base with her VP selection, that base will know all they need to know about what she will do in office — and may respond accordingly.