It’s been amusing to read the punditry and the politicos, but particularly the politicos, as they try to find stones to throw at the Liberal Party’s strongly supported by the public position that now is not the right time to keep slashing corporate taxes.
One oft-repeated meme is that four years ago the Liberals supported corporate tax cuts, and so how dare they change their mind. This leads to one of the most oft-repeated, and lamest, charges in political “debate”: the flip flop.
Hearing this charge from the Conservatives on the right is one thing (not that they’ve never been known to change their minds on anything…) but it’s particularly amusing coming from the NDP, given that they also are opposed to further corporate tax cuts. But then again, they have a history of being angry when people agree with them, anger being a default position, although one that makes it difficult to “make parliament work."
When people make the “you supported it in 2007” argument as NDP strategist Brian Topp does today, and as Sun reporter David Akin did last week, they usually forget to add one useful thing: context.
Things are a lot different today than they were in 2007. The Ottawa Senators battled Anaheim in the Stanley Cup Finals. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End packed them in at the box office, and The Dixie Chicks cleaned-up at the Grammies.
Oh, and the Liberal Party had another leader and the federal budget projected a surplus for 2006/07 of $9.2 billion, and $3 billion for 2007/08.
In the context of 2007, with a healthy surplus, corporate tax cuts made sense as part of a program of targeted tax relief in other areas and other program investment. Which is what the Liberals campaigned on in 2008.
However, things are a little different today, aren’t they? We have a deficit of over $50 billion, and a host of more pressing priorities. And the Ottawa Senators are now a horrible hockey team. So in the current context, corporate tax cuts no longer make sense, particularly when you're talking about borrowing money and adding to the deficit to do it.
Things change, and we need our politicians to change along with them and adopt policy that suits the needs and challenges of the times, instead of being wedded to the policies of yesterday if they no longer make sense. That’s why government investment in telegraph infrastructure shouldn’t be a priority, why there’s no debate about a phonograph levy, and why we don’t need to tighten our border security to guard against Fenian raids.
Canadians want leaders with a plan for 2011; not critics still living in 2007.