Despite the "Bernie or bust" crowd at the Democratic National Convention, the leaders of the Democratic Party united around their presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and her running mate, Tim Kaine. While polling earlier in the year indicated that many in the Party were hoping for a VP pick like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Clinton decided to go with Kaine who is relatively unknown. The former Virginia Governor and Senator since 2013 is widely hailed as a "moderate" who can assist her campaign in key battleground states.
Since his selection, Kaine has backed away from two policy stances that helped describe him as a moderate: his support for free trade deals like North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and his call to deregulate the banking system. NTUF reviewed the legislation Kaine supports in the Senate to explain how his fiscal policies align with Clinton's campaign agenda.
He has sponsored or cosponsored 145 bills, with 36 proposals that would increase spending and only 3 proposals to save taxpayers’ money. Kaine is a net spender in Congress with his proposals costing $24.8 billion per year. In other words, Kaine proposed to spend $110 million for each dollar he proposed to cut. An overview of policy areas is listed below.
Tim Kaine’s Legislative Spending Proposals (Dollar Figures in Millions)
Total Cost per Year
# of Increase Proposals
Cost per Year of Increase Proposals
# of Savings Proposals
Cost per Year of Savings Proposals
# of Proposals with Indeterminate Costs
Note: Last updated July 29, 2016.
Health Care: Clinton and Kaine share the same legislative agenda on health care, increasing the federal government’s role in decisions related to individuals and the overall health care market. Kaine supports increased funding for medical research in breast cancer ($32 million over 3 years) and Alzheimer's research ($7.07 billion over 5 years). Kaine has cosponsored a bill to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program - which has been riddled with fraud - to the tune of $40 billion over four years. Like Clinton, Kaine wants to give Medicare permission to negotiate prescription drug prices, but the Congressional Budget Office has noted that, "a [price negotiation] proposal that applied to a broader range of drugs could generate no savings or even increase federal costs. The effect on federal spending would also depend on how the Secretary would choose to exercise any new authority to negotiate prices."
Economic Policy: Kaine cosponsored several different bills that match up with Clinton’s economic agenda. Kaine supports increasing the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour over four years, which would decrease total employment, and in particular would a have a negative impact on younger, less-experienced workers. Kaine also supports the Paycheck Fairness Act, which authorizes $15 million to ensure equal pay for equal work.
Kaine’s record on free trade reveals that he historically approves of the benefits of free trade, but also wants to mitigate that adverse effects of free trade on some workers. Perhaps the most interesting policies Kaine has supported throughout his political career are the free trade agreements like North America Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. However, Kaine recently changed course and now opposes the TPP. Kaine also supports legislation to expand the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, aimed at providing assistance to workers negatively impacted by foreign competition.
Education: Clinton and Kaine both support the creation and strengthening of pre-school programs. Kaine supports students through two different pieces of legislation, the PRE-K Act and the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, which would have cost $1.7 billion over five years and $12.4 billion over the first five years.
Energy: Kaine supports the Southern Atlantic Energy Security Act, which would require the Department of the Interior to lease oil drilling permits offshore from Virginia to Georgia. This proposal is at odds with Clinton’s position, which has expressed “scepticism” over drilling off the east coast. Kaine also supports legislation to boost federal spending on carbon capture and clean coal by $2.4 billion per year. While "clean coal" is not specified in Clinton’s agenda, she has proposed a $30 billion plan for "revitalizing coal communities" that includes grants for clean energy.
Budget: One proposal that stands out among the list of bills Kaine supports in the Senate is the Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act, which would reform the budget process from an annual to a two-year cycle. Currently, there is no mention of any budget reform proposals on Clinton's campaign website. On the other hand, Clinton has been clear about the tax hikes she supports; Americans for Tax Reform has compiled a list of her $1 trillion in new taxes (which falls short of fully-financing her $174 billion per year spending agenda). While Kaine is generally considered a more moderate Democrat, left-of-center organizations have praised his record of supporting "progressive" tax policies in the Senate and as Virginia's governor.
Kaine would bolster Clinton's support for new spending; her campaign agenda and his legislative agenda are scant on budget cutting proposals. Their records are also general aligned on tax policy. Kaine’s record of proposing more federal spending than cuts and his tendency to support higher and more progressive taxation should give taxpayers pause. Missing from their respective agendas are policies to rein in federal spending or to address the overly complex Tax Code.