Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Andrew Coyne for leader

Dead on and depressing.

... Is this what you voted for, you loyal Conservative followers? Is this what you suffered for, through all those long years of Liberal rule, dreaming of the Conservative revolution to come? "Hiring 50% more environmental enforcement officers?" Increasing "the share of meal expenses that long-haul truck drivers can deduct?" Tax credits for lacrosse? Exactly how does this differ from any Liberal budget -- other than outspending them, I mean?

And on the tax side? We had been conditioned to expect very little in the way of tax cuts by the Tories' trumpeting of their risible "tax-back guarantee," in which the interest savings from debt reduction -- a whole $20 per taxpayer -- were to be dedicated to tax reduction. But I had not realized quite how little it would be. Because even the "tax back guarantee," it turns out, involves no actual tax cutx of any kind. Rather, "the interest savings enhance the Government's ability to deliver on new personal income tax reductions" -- mark those words -- "including the introduction of the Working Income Tax Benefit, the $2,000 child credit, raising the spousal amount, and increasing the age limit for converting a registered retirement savings plan."

Now, what do the items on that list have in common? They are not tax cuts, in the usual sense of a reduction in tax rates. Rather, they are spending programs, delivered through the tax system. The "$2,000 child credit" is in fact a $310 baby bonus. The Working Income Tax Benefit is an earnings supplement. These may be fine programs, but they're programs: money the government gives you, depending on whether you fit the criterion. That's why they're called tax expenditures -- and why they're accounted as such on the government's books.

So even the $1-billion "tax back" -- out of total revenues of $237-billion -- turns out, on closer inspection, to be zero. What was it Stephen Harper was saying the other day, about the people who didn't have the time to organize a protest or the money to hire a lobbyist? Well, they're the ones that got left out of this budget: the common, ordinary, undifferentiated taxpayers. If you perform little tricks for the government, do the things it wants you to do -- ride the bus, live past 65, invest in a manufacturing company -- you get a cookie. But there isn't one real, honest-to-God, across-the-board tax cut in the entire document. The government that raised personal income tax rates in 2006 cannot scrounge up enough revenues to lower them in 2007.

Emphasis is all mine, baby. Applying it was both cathartic and therapeutic.

h/t Peter Jaworski


Joanne (True Blue) said...

As someone said at Jack's Newswatch recently, this is a marathon; not a sprint.

mostlyfree said...

And we're going to win by jogging in the wrong direction?

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

I think Joanne means that this is the sort of budget you produce to get more people to vote for you, and once they vote for this type of budget in sufficient numbers to give you a majority, then "WHAMMMO!!!" out comes the REAL conservative agenda.

The trick is to convince enough people you're all about X, so you can win enough seats to implement Y.

Seems entirely logical to me.

Dishonest, and kinda slimy, but logical.

mostlyfree said...

I'm not a fan of dishonest or slimy, and I'm not in favour of paying the kind of price we seem to be more and more willing to pay to get to power.

notloz said...

You have no real clue whats going on in you're own party yet you trust them?
You're being deceived!
Jokes of life, the whole lot of you!

Mark said...

Kitchener, I've heard that same argument from Tory supporters, and I don't buy it. For the longest time the Liberals complained that Harper had a hidden agenda. It was never true. But now I have to put my trust in a very-well-hidden agenda of fiscal responsibility and keep voting for the guy?

Maybe he finally figured out what you have to do to be liked in this country, which is give away other people's money like it's going out of style. Pity.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...


I'm certainly not one to recommend you keep voting for this guy. In fact, I'd say Conservatives have a good reason to NOT vote for him now.

The latest budget indicates one of two things. Either 1) the CPC is now as Liberal as the Liberals ever were, and sound fiscal policy has no place in federal politics, or 2) the CPC is still fiscally conservative, but they felt the need to present this kind of budget in order to buy votes, and win a majority.

So, either the Tories have abandoned their principles, or they're PRETENDING to have abandoned their principles in order to fool Canadians into voting for them.

Surely neither is an attractive option.

mostlyfree said...


Remember that talk we had about you acquiring some tact?

notloz said...

I'm attempting to :)