It has been just over three weeks since Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) became Vice Presidential Candidate Kaine. And in that short amount of time, he has, to the disappointment of manufacturers, changed positions on two of our most important issues: energy and trade.
As a senator, manufacturers could often count on Sen. Kaine to be a reasonable voice on energy and environmental policy issues. On energy exports, he was in line with manufacturers, cosponsoring legislation in 2013 and 2015 to improve the permitting process for liquefied natural gas export terminals—projects that will drive billions of dollars in investments in manufacturing and other industrial sectors. On opening access to oil and gas resources off the Atlantic Coast, Sen. Kaine once again helped lead the charge, cosponsoring legislation in 2013 and again in 2015 directing the Department of Interior to include the Atlantic Coast in its energy lease sales.
Vice Presidential Candidate Kaine, on the other hand, is staking out a starkly different position on energy development. He opposes unlocking oil and gas resources off the Atlantic Coast. This abrupt shift on energy policy raises some red flags for manufacturers, consumers of one-third of the nation’s energy. An NAM study performed by IHS Economics forecasts that over the next decade, total demand for natural gas will increase by 40 percent, driven in large part by increased demand from manufacturers.
On the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), we are also seeing a tale of two Kaines. While nothing about the text of the TPP has changed since the 12-country trade deal was signed in February, Sen. Kaine’s position has appeared to shift significantly. In July, he made several positive statements on the TPP, noting that there “was much in it to like,” including upgraded labor, environmental and intellectual property standards. Less than a week later, however, Vice Presidential Candidate Kaine completely disavowed the TPP. Sen. Kaine’s original statements on the TPP, not his newfound opposition, are in line with the type of trade agenda that will grow U.S. manufacturing. The United States is losing in the global competition to open markets, as other countries have negotiated hundreds of trade agreements that exclude and disadvantage manufacturers in the United States. Manufacturers need trade agreements like the TPP to eliminate foreign trade barriers and upgrade foreign standards to level the playing field and boost U.S. competitiveness globally. Standing on the global sidelines just means the United States will fall further and further behind competitors, such as China, Mexico, Germany and others.
If manufacturers are going to continue driving economic growth over the next four years and beyond, we need access to all forms of energy and access to more markets overseas. So we need leaders whose policy positions are more like Sen. Kaine’s than Vice Presidential Candidate Kaine’s.