Losing What Should Have Been An Easy Win, In One VP Pick
The past two weeks have seen a steadily increasing number of trial-balloon pieces focused on Hillary Clinton’s VP choices in the media. Last time we were treated to this kind of thing was a couple of weeks before the California primary (how time flies!) when, out of the blue, pundits began chattering about the Clinton campaign wooing Republican women. Such pieces were swiftly deemed by progressives as a signal that Clinton was trying to pivot back to the right. After about three weeks’ pause, Clinton finally began moving left in order to garner Senator Sanders’ support. Now that she has it, we are again at square one.
For the past year, any Veep talk with respect to Clinton and whom she might choose has always been centered around someone like Julian Castro, whom it was said was being groomed for the job. Another name that is currently being floated about, way down the list, though, is that of Labor Secretary, Tom Perez.
A couple of weeks ago, however, the name that began popping up is that of Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, much to the dismay of progressives and feminists. Kaine is a proponent of relaxing banking rules. The Huffington Post reported that Kaine is actively calling for the deregulation of banks even as he is lobbying for a VP pick:
“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.”
“In a letter to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry and FDIC Chair Martin Gruenberg, Kaine argues that it is unfair for these large banks to be required to calculate and report their liquidity ― a critical measure of risk ― on a daily basis. Kaine wants to change that reporting to once a month. Kaine, along with Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Robert Casey (D-Pa.), argues that bigger banks don’t necessarily carry bigger risks, and thus shouldn’t face more aggressive oversight.”
On this score alone, he would be the anti-Warren pick.
But there is also the matter of the TPP, which he is reported to enthusiastically support. On that score, picking him would signal the polar opposite of what Clinton took a very long time to make up her mind on: opposing a trade agreement that is so wildly unpopular that it is opposed by a majority of Democrats, and not just Sanders Democrats. What’s more, while Clinton publicly disavowed the TPP, the superdelegates who put her over the top in the delegate count and sat on the DNC platform committee, blocked the inclusion of anti-TPP language in the DNC’s platform last month, in a supposed refusal to go against President Obama. As it is, that move by these superdelegates appeared to be a rather transparent trick to offer Clinton a way out of her opposition to the TPP.
Suddenly, as reported by The Intercept, Kaine doubles down on his praise for the TPP just hours before Clinton’s VP announcement is due to be made:
“Fast track was to give President Obama the same tools to negotiate a trade deal that every president since Gerald Ford has had, and of course I voted for that,” Kaine said. “Why would I not give to this president the same tools to negotiate a trade deal that other presidents have had?”
One should also keep in mind that rumors of a push to pass the TPP during the lame-duck session have been swirling for months. As the New York Times reported in January 2016:
“The cause of free and open trade has not faced such political toxicity in decades, with Donald J. Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders all openly hostile to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest regional trade accord in history. But supporters’ seemingly perverse calculation is this: The certainty that Mr. Obama’s successor would abandon the agreement gives new impetus for advocates to begin maneuvering toward a vote before 2017.”
Here, it is important to reiterate that trade is GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s signature campaign issue against both Bill and Hillary Clinton, at a time when 67% of the electorate has a negative view of trade agreements. Trump’s stance on trade has garnered him a high degree of support among blue collar voters in the Rust Belt.
At a time when women’s rights have been under fire for so long, Kaine is personally opposed to abortion rights, though he’s voted in favor of a woman’s right to choose:
“On abortion, he carries a perfect score from Planned Parenthood regarding his Senate votes—but Kaine is also a devout Catholic who says, as he did on Meet the Press last Sunday, “I don’t like it personally.”
On fiscal issues, Kaine definitely trends toward the right-most end of the party. Politico reports that while Kaine was opposed to the Simpson-Bowles recommendation to reduce Social Security benefits, he did support $2-3 of cuts for every one dollar spent, and did so at a time when left-leaning economists were universally clamoring for Keynesian stimulatory policy during near-depression.
On the environment, while Kaine opposed the Keystone pipeline, his financial disclosure included owning shares in a company that was competing against Keystone.
These are all issues that are deal-breakers for progressive voters. They are also issues most Democrats have strong feelings about. Then, there are all the other Democratic voters to consider. Black millennials have concerns that have not been fully or satisfactorily been addressed by the Clinton campaign. Her behavior with Black Lives Matter hasn’t been forgotten, especially in the wake of new police brutality cases and old cases winding through the courts and ending without justice being done. Mostly, however, the battered former middle class hasn’t been recognized or addressed directly by the Clinton campaign. That includes voters or all races who fell out of the middle class with the Great Recession and their anger and disgust has been reflected consistently in polling over the past year:
Trust has been in short supply this election cycle. The choice of a middle aged white neoliberal vice presidential candidate will only confirm what dubious voters always suspected: that Hillary Clinton telegraphed and said anything she needed to say to get through a rigged process and always intended to pivot right back to the 1990’s.