Welcome Sen. Kaine (July 22)

Mike & Co.,

Last night, Donald Trump accepted the GOP presidential nomination with a lengthy speech largely devoid of economic policy.  Beyond paltry mentions of reducing and simplifying taxes for everyone, reducing the cost of excessive regulation, and tearing up every trade deal in sight, Trump presented no clear-cut or comprehensive plan or even a broad vision for the economy.

Against that backdrop of intellectual bankruptcy and inexperience, we take a look at the economic, fiscal and financial policy record of one of only 20 people in American history ever to serve as Mayor, Governor, and Senator — Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia.

To Tim’s team — welcome aboard.   Good weekends all and see you in Philly!




Overall Record

Senator Tim Kaine’s economic policy record and priorities are almost entirely in line with that of Secretary Clinton — the compatibility is virtually seamless.

Kaine’s tenure as governor of Virginia overlapped with much of the great recession.  Under his leadership, Virginia experienced fewer job losses and a lower unemployment rate than the U.S. average.  During this time, Kaine also cut the Virginia budget by more than $5 billion, even reducing his own salary.

A member of the Senate Budget Committee, the Senator supports a “balanced” approach to budget negotiations.  He is a supporter of two-year budgeting, citing his experience with this approach as governor.  In that capacity, he supported raising the minimum wage in Virginia and extending emergency unemployment insurance benefits.   

Senate Record

Kaine has shown particular leadership on legislation on employment and wages.  He sponsored the JOBS Act of 2015 to expand Pell Grant eligibility for students in short-term job training programs.  He cosponsored the Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act of 2015, which would provide businesses that provide apprenticeships with tax credits, and the Raise the Wage Act, which would gradually raise federal minimum wages over several years.  Kaine has also supported the Paycheck Fairness Act to help achieve gender-neutral pay, in two sessions of Congress.

With regard to taxes, he has cosponsored the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2015 to extend the EITC and the CTC, as well as the Foster Care Tax Credit Act.  He has supported the Marketplace Fairness Act, which permit state governments to collect sales and use taxes from remote retailers with no physical presence in their state.  Kaine has backed the Small Business Tax Credit Accessibility Act, which pertains to health care insurance tax credits facing small employers.

Kaine has supported the Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Acts of the past two sessions of Congress, and cosponsored the INFORM Act of 2013, which would require the CBO, the GAO, and the OMB to conduct both fiscal gap and generation accounting analyses for federal budgets.

Tax Policy

Kaine has stressed in the past that the tax code, both individual and corporate, must be made simpler, with fewer special interest loopholes. The Senator has specifically supported closing loopholes that allow companies to shelter income offshore, addressing a letter in support to the Senate Finance Committee in 2013.  Kaine has called for an examination of the favorable treatment of carried interest and capital gains in the tax code and supported a “reasonable” increase in corporate revenue collections.  He expressed openness in 2012 to a minimum tax level for all Americans.  During his time as Virginia governor, Kaine proposed tax increases of approximately $4 billion, designed to fund transportation projects,

Financial Services

Kaine has steadfastly supported the reforms of Dodd-Frank as well as financial regulations in general, though he believes that more distinctions should be made in the regulatory treatment of small and large financial institutions.  He is frequently active on regulatory issues and has been recently.

This Monday, Kaine signed two letters regarding smaller banks.  The first requested the CFPB to “carefully tailor its rulemaking” with regard to community banks and credit unions, with an aim to prevent “unduly burden” of such institutions by subjecting them to the same regulations as commercial banks.  The second, addressed to the Federal Reserve, supported regional banks that seek relief from daily liquidity reporting requirements.

Anticipatory Response to GOP

Kaine has repeatedly emphasized his strong support for financial regulations and the Dodd-Frank Act.  He does believe that small institutions, such as credit unions and local and community banks, should be treated differently in the regulatory regime from large financial institutions.  These smaller institutions are not the risky firms that caused the 2008 financial crisis.  Rules, he says, should be “tailored to the character of individual institutions” so as to not “choke off” access to capital for families and small businesses.

Kaine signed a state estate tax repeal during his tenure as governor.   This is a state tax, not a federal, and the fiscal consequences were likely fairly small.

Kaine is in favor of free trade as a concept, particularly as Virginia is a “global gateway” in terms of export industries.  He supports trade partnerships so long as they protect local workers, maintain strong environmental and labor standards and safeguard intellectual property rights.  Kaine has also stated that his backing of trade promotion authority should not be interpreted as a “blind endorsement” for all trade agreements.  As he wrote in an op-ed in 2015, he is “pro-trade, but pro-Virginia first.”

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