Senator Tim Kaine was in Detroit, Michigan today, a city that’s kind of become the bipartisan default backdrop for political speeches about the economy. The Democratic nominee for vice president was talking this afternoon about poverty and how a Clinton-Kaine Administration might work to end it.
Kai Ryssdal: Senator Kaine, good to have you with us.
Tim Kaine: Kai, great to be with you today, thanks.
Ryssdal: Right at the top of your speech today, sir, you were talking about the commitment that Secretary Clinton and yourself are making toward jobs in this economy as part of the way to wipe out poverty. What, then, is a good job? What makes a good job as far as you’re concerned?
Kaine: You know, it’s something that satisfies you, but it is also something that enables you to have financial success, raise a family and have a secure retirement. The wage level is really, really important. We’ve got to make sure we got to increase the number of jobs. And President Obama, we’ve seen a growth of jobs of 50 million in the private sector. But we still got a long way to go. And we need to see wages going up, because that’s what it takes to get people out of poverty.
Ryssdal: You know the bugaboo in this economy, sir, in the past seven years, has been that wages are stuck and good jobs with all that comes with that have been hard to come by. What are you going to do about that?
Kaine: Well, we sort of have a couple of pillars to our economic plan. The first pillar is major investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and research. Heavy on the infrastructure side because the nation needs it. Interest rates are still low; it’s a good time to do it. As a former mayor and governor, what I love about infrastructure investments is you hire people right away to build bridges, roads, ports, airports, broadband roll out, but then you raise your platform for economic success. Many of these investments are basically utilized for 40, 50, 60 years, so it’s kind of a double economic win. That’s Pillar 1. Pillar 2 is making sure we invest in the workforce. From pre-K education to celebrating great teachers, to career and technical education, to affordable college. If you have the best-trained workforce, you’re going to have the strongest economy. Pillar 3 is what I call just basic fairness policies: increase in the minimum wage, paid family leave, equal pay for equal work or childcare tax credits. And then Pillar 4 is the focus on small businesses as the engine. Sixty-five percent of new jobs comes from small businesses. Hillary and I both grew up in small business households, and we want to make it easier to start, finance and grow small businesses.
Ryssdal: I want to turn, if I might, sir, to the secretary’s Goldman Sachs speeches that came out over the weekend on WikiLeaks, and I understand that the campaign is not going to authenticate them. But I do have to ask you, there is, it sure looks like, a whole lot of daylight between what the secretary was saying in these private speeches three years ago and what she said during the primaries and even today on the campaign trail. And I wonder if that helps you understand why some people look at her and your campaign and say, “We don’t know what she’s going to do, actually, about trade or Wall Street regulations, or those kinds of things.”
Kaine: Well I mean, people are asking questions of both candidates about trade, about Wall Street certainly. Let’s just talk about Wall Street regulations. I have been a strong supporter in the Senate for Dodd-Frank and maintaining regulations to make sure that Wall Street can no longer tank the American economy through kind of being unbridled and unleashed. And Hillary and I both share that, and we definitely believe in Dodd-Frank and in trying to make it stronger. You don’t have to guess to know what the other side’s position is. They want to repeal Dodd-Frank. That would expose the American economy to major, major problems, and so fair questions to ask of both sides, but there’s a huge difference between the two tickets on Wall Street regulations.
Ryssdal: Well sir, I get that, but Secretary Clinton said in one of those speeches, “Listen, I think we need an insider to help us regulate Wall Street,” and I would betcha that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would say, “Yeah, no, we don’t need too many more insiders.”
Kaine: Well, look, the issue … but she was talking about regulating Wall Street, she was not talking about deregulating Wall Street, she was not talking about no-holds-barred or repealing the existing regulations. You know, people who have experience in the industry are often necessary and helpful to help you tailor what the regulations are that are going to enable you to have the effect that you want to have. You want to avoid unforeseen consequences. But the appropriate level of regulation is what we are seeking, and we are going to resist any effort to do what the Trump ticket wants to do, which is to repeal Dodd-Frank.
Ryssdal: Do you see a way — if I can shift to global trade here quickly for a second —
Ryssdal: — because I know your time is tight. Do you see a way that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Secretary Clinton was for when she was secretary of state and now is opposed to as are you, is there a way it can be amended or changed that she would be in favor of it?
Kaine: I can’t see it right now. As you know I voted to give the president the ability to fast track to negotiate the best deal possible. Every president since Gerald Ford has had that power, and I think it’s a power you oughta give to the president. But when we had that vote back in the summer of 2015, I and some others who voted to do it laid out some criteria we want to see a deal that looks like this. I had some very particular concerns about the enforcement mechanisms. What fast track does, Kai, as you know, it requires an up or down vote, no amendments, no committee process. It’s an up or down vote in Congress about this. And there’s just too many problems with the deal that was negotiated on the table, ah, for us to support it, so we are going to vote, I have a vote as a senator at least. You know, as long as I am in the Senate I’m going to vote no. It’s an up or down vote and it doesn’t meet the standard that we put on the table, which is does the deal increase jobs, increase wages, is it good for national security and then also can you enforce it. Especially on the enforcement side its very, very weak.
Ryssdal: To the future now sir, and what happens should you and Secretary Clinton win come November. You said this today, “This is a momentous time in America. We’re going through a real test of our values and our commitment to one another.” You will, and Secretary Clinton will if you win, have to deal with a not small part of the electorate that feels disenfranchised, that feels they have been cut out of the economy, and that has been warned that you are not gonna act in their best interest. What are you going to do about that?
Kaine: Kai that’s a big one, and Hillary and I, you know, we had a number of to-do’s already on the list, but especially with the way the Trump campaign in the last few days has been trying to question the legitimacy of the election, this to-do has gotten more important. But I do think a lot of it does come back to the economic plan we’re going to put on the table in the first 100 days, that will have to be bipartisan. We’ll have to get Republican votes to get an economic plan through. And it’s going to be an economic plan that has the features that I’ve described, where there is both strategies to increase prosperity. But we’ve been an economy where increases in the GDP are not accessible by everybody. And if you have points on the GDP going up, but a lot of people don’t see the ladder for success for themselves, they are going to be frustrated. They are going to be concerned. I see this in Virginia. I talked today in the speech about, I was a civil rights lawyer for 17 years. I care deeply about the equity issue. And then I was a mayor and governor and cared deeply about making economic development deals and growing the economy. We have to put a plan on the table that can create a more shared notion of prosperity. And that will be, that will speak very clearly to some folks who feel cut out. If we do it, it will speak to their condition, and I think we’ll be able to work together.
Ryssdal: Have you or Secretary Clinton had conversations with Speaker Ryan or Secretary or Sen. McConnell about the economic healing that needs to take place?
Kaine: I have not had conversations with either since being added to the ticket, but I work in the Senate, obviously, with Sen. McConnell, and I was on the Budget Committee when Paul Ryan was the Budget Committee chair, and we’ve talked broadly about some of these issues. But you know, you get in the campaign season and everyone’s just running. The dust will settle, but look, we are all going to have to work together for the good of the public. Both Hillary and I, Hillary as a senator had a great track record of working across the aisle. I had that same track of record as a governor with two Republican houses, and in the current Senate I, I reach across the aisle on things every day. We are going to have to do it for the good of the folks.
Ryssdal: A question about your parents, sir, if I might. Your father ran an iron-working workshop. Your mother taught home-ec.
Ryssdal: They’ve been out on the campaign trail with you. Do you think they can make it in today’s economy?
Kaine: You know, that’s a great question. I think my folks would have done exactly what they did 55 years ago. My mom was a home ec teacher for a while until the three boys came in quick order, and then later she worked in food service for a while. She would have done the same thing, and my dad definitely would have done what he did. He started off working with larger businesses, but then you know, there’s that entrepreneurial gene, you want to have your own thing. I think that some of the challenges that small business owners have today — if my dad was doing it today — getting access to capital. If you don’t have your own track record of running a business, can you get the capital? And that’s why Hillary and I have made this fourth pillar of our plan, small business success, because she came out of a small business household just like I did, and these were not businesses that were household names, but they were businesses that put my dad’s kids and his workers’ kids through school and made a dignified living for them, and so I know he’d be trying to do the same thing. Hillary and I want to have an economy where the folks who have that dream, and want to own their own business, where they can do it.
Ryssdal: Senator, thanks very much for your time sir. Tim Kaine, senator from Virginia, Democratic candidate for the vice president of the United States. Have a good day, sir.
Kaine: All right Kai, thanks.
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