Tuesday, March 20, 2007

More on the Budget

One anonymous commenter down-blog seems to think that I was somehow upset at the largesse in Flaherty's budget yesterday. To which I can only say: boy, you haven't been here long, have you?

We've had two decades, at provincial and federal levels, of political parties governing by balancing the budget on the backs of the poor -- no cut was too cruel, no victim too low to be kicked. So I was terrified that when the Conservatives got to power, they'd be even crueler than the Liberals had been in power.

Well, money changes people as they say. No big tax cuts, no major reorganization of the government, no head-on attacks on the poor. It is, as I said, a thoroughly Liberal budget. I quoted Andrew Coyne as being furious that nobody was willing to slash spending and screw the poor anymore because that's what Andrew Coyne will always say, and he can turn a nice phrase when he's in high dudgeon.

But I vote for the NDP. Why would I be upset if the Conservatives and Liberals have abandoned the fetish of tax-and-service-cuts? Why would I be upset if the shibboleth of "spending discipline" has lost all meaning? For every big-spending budget the Conservative Party of Canada brings in, Paul Martin and Preston Manning die a bit inside, and that makes me happy.

The only thing that's going to save Harper on this budget is that a) the BQ is playing the role of the good whore and staying bought, and b) the Liberals are doing their best to make Harper still look "disciplined" -- Stéphane Dion is out there saying not only would he shovel more money to Quebec, but he'd spend more on Natives, the environment, etc, etc. After decades of parties competing on how little they could spend on Canada, it's nice to have the reverse situation.

It's especially nice if, like me, you believe the government has immense and expensive problems that it should be tackling -- climate change, peak oil, reinvesting in infrastructure and rebuilding our military.

So: To Stephen Harper, for doing your best to bury even the idea of small-government conservatism, I say huzzah! Thanks from the NDP!


Closet Liberal said...

I hear you. My however is I think the budget is a zero sum plan. No real benefit, but lots of money spent. I would rather across the board tax cuts (a conservative plank) than this mismash of policies.

What I really want? For the Federal government to identify the one key "issue" or "problem" they want to fix (other than the fiscal imbalance, something more tangible please.)

For example, I would have been ecstatic if they announced they would provide 5 billion dollars for new mass transit solutions, not plans, studies, etc., but construction dollars. My philosphy is about focusing energies in one place to engender real solutions in a timely manner. Like how we killed the deficit, it was "THE" priority, all else was secondary. Unlike the deficit however, we would be spending available monies to solve a problem so it need not be at the expense of other programs. Next budget, focus on the next problem (crumbling infrastructure, or water quality, retrofitting existing buildings to be greener, MRI machines, etc.)

This scattering of crumbs feeds the hungry birds but doesn't replace the forest that was their home.

eugene plawiuk said...

So explain the NDP talking points for why they cannot support this budget since they claim it still is about the boardroom table not the kitchen table.

Oberlinblogger said...

Ack. Building a military? Take some of ours please. Or all of it!

-Sam L

john said...

Eugene: I'm not sure what you mean. I keep calling it a Liberal budget because I think that's what it is -- why would the NDP support it? We didn't support Liberal budgets when the Liberals made them, I see no reason to start now, quite apart from external political reasons.