Thursday, September 18, 2008

Can I call you Steve?

Give 'em hell, Jean!

Chretien jogs Harper's memory: Liberals - not Tories - balanced the books

OTTAWA - Jean Chretien says Prime Minister Stephen Harper is conveniently ignoring the fact that Liberals - not Conservatives - did all the heavy lifting required to elminate the federal deficit.

"We balanced the books . . . and they forget to mention that," the former Liberal prime minister said in a brief interview Thursday.

Through the opening two weeks of the federal election campaign, Harper has repeatedly warned that the Liberals would drive the country back into a deficit with billions in unaffordable, reckless spending promises. He reiterated the theme Thursday in response to Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's promise to invest $70 billion over 10 years in infrastructure.

By contrast, Harper has painted himself and the Conservatives as models of fiscal rectitude.

But Chretien suggested Harper has got it backwards.
(read more)

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Jason Hickman said...

Nice of him to mention policies like the GST, which contributed to that book-balancing.

Not to mention all of the support the Liberals offered for spending reductions during the '84-'93 period.

Oh, wait - Chretien and the Libs were on the opposite sides of all those issues. It seems Jean forgot *that*.

Don't get me wrong - the Libs did a lot to tame the deficit/debt problem, especially early on in their mandate. But if Jean wants to bring back history, let's bring it *all* back. And I'm sure you're old enough to remember that the Libs weren't exactly running around saying that the Tories were cutting too little, or spending too much, before '93.

I'll give 'em credit where it's due, but to some extent, they got to pick the flowers that were already planted.

burlivespipe said...

Nice projecting there Jason. The only flowers Brian M appeared to be picking came in envelopes that were deposited in a New York bank. The economy, especially Ontario's, was run aground by plenty of bad Tory decisions. Sure, if it was already a done deal, let's come to the present. Where's that surplus gone?

The Rat said...

The GST, & NAFTA, two conservative policies that the Liberal benefited from as they cut the provinces down to size in slaying the deficit. And if you're wondering where that surplus went, Mr. Ives Pipe, I'd suggest you look in your OWN pockets for change, you'll find it there.

Hands in your pockets, hand in your pockets, hand in your pockets . . .

RuralSandi said...

Rae said something about having an audit of the books so to speak.

Afterall, both Chretien and McGuinty were left with nasty surprises - so be fair there Hickman.

The CPC have quite a history of misleading about the status of the economy and the books.

mannt said...

I attach here a link showing the national debt over the years:

If these figures, which appear to be based on actual Finance Dept figures, are correct, the following points can be noted:

(a) the largest debt, at about $330B, was incurred during the Mulroney years (84-93); the debt was about $150B in 84 and about $480b in 93

(b) the debt increased by about $30B during the Chretien years when it was about $480B in 93 and about $510B in 2003; it went higher in between but was apparently paid off

(c) both Martin and Harper to their credits did not increase the national debt

The link above mentioned that it would appear that even the interest was not paid off during the Mulroney years.

If we calculate a simple 4% annual interest (I have no idea what the actual interest would be) on the outstanding debt of $330B from the Mulroney years till now, it will come to a staggering figure of billions of dollars. This amount is much larger than the putative amount (at hundreds of millions?)of Adscam.

Not trying to justify Adscam which was unjustifiable. Just making simple comparisons of the amounts involved. Of course, it could also be argued that Chretien had off-loaded expenses to the provinces but that, as they say, is another issue, albeit a justifiable one.

If my reading of these figures are correct, then where is the justification that a Tory government will be able to handle our economy better? In fact, it might be argued that a previous Tory government had been responsible for the bulk of our existing national debt.

Could someone point out if I am completely mistaken in my take of this? Thanks.

Jason Hickman said...

The Mulroney Tories ran an "operating surplus" for more than a few years between '84 and '93. What that means is, revenues > program spending, but revenues < program spending + interest on the existing debt.

But look, I said at the outset that Chretien & Co. deserved credit for taking down the deficit. But they did in part by:

1. Taking advantage of Tory-initiated policies - the GST and FTA/NAFTA especially - which they fought like hell against before '93.

2. Completely reversing themselves once they got in office from the sort of "sacred principles" they had beforehand. People around here who say Harper is the worst-ever for not following through on his pre-PM rhetoric must be too young to remember how the Libs treated even modest spending controls before '93, let alone something like the GST.

Of course, it helped that aside from the separatists, the only opposition party that the Libs faced in the HOC from '93 to '97 was the Reformers, who kicked at the Grits from the right. Before '93, the PCs had to deal with the Libs and NDP, who were calling for *more* government spending, not less. And the pre-'93 Libs sure as hell weren't calling for the sorts of policies they introduced in '93 - far from it.

Yappa said...

People blame Chretien/Martin too much for the spending cuts during the 90s. Mulroney left us in such a mess that dire short-term measures were required. Chretien/Martin weren't turning their backs on progressive principles: they were fixing the economy and returning us to prosperity so that we could afford all the programs that we believe in.

The Harper strategy is quite different. He's returning us to deficit while cutting our social programs. And as to all this blather about Harper putting money back in our pockets: I'm middle class and my taxes haven't gone down.