Monday, March 19, 2007

(Pretty much) spin-free budget reaction

As mentioned, I'm down in Salt Lake City this week so I'm missing all the excitement of budget day. And while I've been subjected to lots of spin from all sides today around Microsoft and Novell's Linux partnership, I've so far escaped the budget tsunami.

(Let me say that by spin free I haven't been spun. But I'm sure I make be making some circular movements of my own.) Anyway, not having the time to delve into the budget enough at this point to be able to offer an overall opinion, I instead offer some comments having just read Flaherty's speech on the Web, and no media coverage or party spin.

*First, I couldn't resist a few snarky comments about this section:

We build from a foundation of strength.
Our unemployment rate is the lowest in 30 years.

Our fiscal fundamentals are the strongest in the G7.

We are paying down over $22 billion against the national debt. That’s $700 for every man, woman and child in Canada.

Our taxes are lower.

Our budget is balanced.

Mr. Speaker, in looking to the future, we take inspiration from our country’s magnificent past.
Even if he didn't thank the Liberal Party by name, 'magnificent' is pretty high praise indeed. But definitely a great way to describe a Liberal government that wrestled the deficit, balanced the budget, returned surplus after surplus, and gave Jim that “foundation of strength” to build from. So, you're welcome Jim.

*Reading his speech much of the language sounds, like last year, positively Liberal. I don't say that in a they're stealing our ideas way. Rather, their messaging, the issues they're talking about, and how they're talking about them, aren't necessarily reflective of traditional Conservative priorities, bur rather issues more closely associated with Liberals, or at least Red Tories. Again it's Harper appealing to the middle, election clearly in mind. I don't for a minute think his conversion is genuine. Even if his was, his supporters haven't budged.

*The increase in funding for the post secondary education portion of the CST sounds promising, although without time to get into all the numbers it's tough to say for sure. Still, if they are making real increases here that's welcome.

*They're going to spend $250 million more to create child care spaces. Maybe some spaces will actually get created now, fingers crossed?

*It wasn't that long ago that Conservatives were decrying infrastructure spending, and now they're at least claiming to be ramping it up. Rather that dwell on their being late to the party, I'd just like to say I'm glad they're finally here.

*Lines written by Jack Layton:
Today, we crack down on corporations that have avoided paying their fair share.
Third, we cherish the universality of our health care system, and aspire to strengthen it.

*Interesting to read about a National Water Strategy. Doesn't sound like a sexy issue, but it's more important than you think.

*Taxes are too high Jim? If so, why am I paying more income tax now than I did under the Liberal governmental?

*I remember when Conservatives favoured simplifying the tax system. Now we've got all kinds of tax credits designed to appeal to specific voting demographics, and even just plain tax breaks for the heck of it to targeted groups. As a Liberal I should be all for it, but I find myself balking. Maybe because I'm an unwed single male getting nada here? Nah.

*At first blush this is very much an election budget, designed to get Harper closer to his majority. If I were a died in the wool Conservative I'd be asking is this guy a Conservative or what? Then Doug Finley would box my ears and tell me to shudup and behave. But anyway, the devil is in the details. Judging a budget by the speech is like judging a box of cereal by the box. What the speech does tell you is the message the government is looking to send, and that's clear enough. Will the carpet match the drapes? I'll find out when I point my browser over to media land, but I wouldn't be surprised to find it doesn't. But I'll save that for after dinner.

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4 comments:

Miles Lunn said...

I seem to recall pretty much all election budgets being pretty centrist. Even Harris and Klein would have very right wing budgets in their first three, while their fourth one would look more like a Liberal one. I suspect Harper would introduce a truly conservative one if he thought the public was onside, but there is little evidence they are, or at least certainly not enough to win a majority.

Besides the suburbs and the middle class are generally who decide the winner and I think the budget targeted that group the most.

Steve V said...

"We build from a foundation of strength.
Our unemployment rate is the lowest in 30 years.
Our fiscal fundamentals are the strongest in the G7.
We are paying down over $22 billion against the national debt. That’s $700 for every man, woman and child in Canada.
Our taxes are lower.
Our budget is balanced.
Mr. Speaker, in looking to the future, we take inspiration from our country’s magnificent past.Even if he didn't thank the Liberal Party by name, 'magnificent' is pretty high praise indeed. But definitely a great way to describe a Liberal government that wrestled the deficit, balanced the budget, returned surplus after surplus, and gave Jim that “foundation of strength” to build from."

Someone should ask Flaherty why they refer to themselves as the "new government", while simulateneously taking credit for the legacy.

UWHabs said...

Yeah, spin aside, there's nothing there that screams out, "this is the worst budget in the world!"

And from the few media reports I've seen, it seems fairly ambivalent. A few quotes of the good and the bad stuff, nothing overly controversial.

Devin said...

UWHabs:

Unless you live in Atlantic Canada...