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Surpluses are worse to the Cons. then deficits are.

Despite the wrath I’ve seen on the progressive and liberal blogosphere, there are some Liberals (mostly in the caucus) and Liberal bloggers out there who don’t think this Budget had enough poison pills in it to force an election, yet they go on to complain how the Conservatives have whittled away the surplus we had and how they have missed their opportunity to initiate programs. I don’t mean to single her out, but Woman at Mile 0 is one such example:

Thanks to the incredibly irresponsible fiscal management of the Cons it looks like those heady days are now long gone meaning: no new social programs, a scrapped child care program, no new money for seniors, health care, First Nations, low-income housing or the environment. Heck the Cons even scrapped the environmentally friendly car rebate this week, which was one of the only good ideas I thought they had put forward in their last budget.

For the response to that, I quote the Toronto Star editorial today:

..for Conservatives, surpluses are as evil as deficits, if not more so, because they create a demand for more spending, which means bigger government. As their ideal is the smallest government possible, the federal Conservatives resort to tax cuts at every opportunity; they are the surest way to wipe out surpluses and pare down government…in short order, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tories have managed to rid themselves of the revenues that could have been used to strengthen this country in social, economic and environmental terms. Any promises of more tax cuts in the next election can only mean an assault on existing government spending is sure to follow.

So, as I said over at her blog, the Conservatives under Harper don’t view this as fiscal mismanagement at all. It’s a means to an end of making sure the federal government can’t do national programs or invest in infrastructure and so on – well past the time this government leaves office. The Cons know that tax breaks which is what led to this paring of the surplus are very politically hard to repeal. It is why we should have brought this government down – that was reason enough to do so in my mind, plus a whole plethora of other reasons I’ve already mentioned on here before. It wasn’t to be, however. The Liberal leadership – or at least the majority of the Liberal leadership – and the Nervous Nellies in caucus (and outside of caucus, if one is to believe the media reports that Martha-Hall Findlay and Bob Rae helped lead the charge against a general election) sat idly by, as the Star says, while this has happened.

Complaining about the Conservatives budget and what it’s doing to our ability to improve this country rings hollow, if you’re unwilling to do anything about it.

12 comments to Surpluses are worse to the Cons. then deficits are.

  • I have answered your comment on my site Scott.† To Aaron G….ah but the Libs didn’t vote for the second budget.† The 1st budget was a given…given there was an election†just a few†months before.† Throwing them down†on the first step out to plate†would not have been acceptable. Plus Canadians care more about their money than that and elections are expensive. † Canadians including the Libs†were willing to give the Cons a chance and they blew it.

  • rabbit

    During the Trudeau era I remember budget after budget of increasing taxes. The Mulroney era only slowed the trend. The assault on the taxpayer’s wallet was relentless. And though people claimed that the rich were bearing the burden, in truth it was the middle class, for that’s where the bulk of the money is in our economy.

    Although I agree the CPC might now be "poisoning the well" for the Liberals, it’s a vast improvement over the old days when governments couldn’t take our money fast enough.

  • Ted

    Scott’s post is "spot on". For government to give, government must take. If government has run a surplus, government has taken more then given. Lowering taxes means government takes less, thus giving future government less flexibility to give.
    ALW is absolutely correct, those of us who generally believe in "less government" have always struggled with the political consequences of eliminating or cancelling government programs, no matter how inefficient they are. With tax cuts, the Left can finally have the tables turned on them.

  • Jim Tan

    Letís be clear about why dion has to go. It isnít that dion is the worse communicator in Canada, a poor leader, and doesnít understand politics. I have said as much months ago.It isnít that the LPC doesnít oppose CPC legislature or wonít fight an election. Dion is being logical. He doesnít have the issues to take to the people.Dion has to go because he is unable to create a winning edge. He has failed as a strategist to forge a green alliance with the NDP and Bloc. He could have given them Afghanistan to seal the deal. He has failed as a leader to create a new and better brand for the LPC. And, he has failed as an organizer to revitalize the LPC.Compare with Barrack Obama. He started as the underdog, and hopelessly outgunned. In six months, he has gained momentum and a movement. He has out-organized the Democratic Party establishment. He started as a brand and an idea, and firmed up his platform as he went. He started by marketing himself, and an organization now has life of its own. Is this a winning business model?On the other hand, Dionís brand and mini-movement evaporated after the Montreal convention. He has not been able to transfer the brand to the LPC, or create a new one. He may think that he is conserving scarce resources for an election next year. The problem is that the LPC will be even weaker next year under his non-leadership.Dion has to go.

  • Scott: It’s again worth pointing out another important difference between the Libs and the U.S. Dems. The latter have an open primary system, such that it’s actually possible to challenge an incumbent who needs replacing – in contrast to the Libs’ system of immunizing sitting MPs from nomination challenges. And they also don’t provide for Lib-style candidate appointments.

    To replace a pseudo-Dem, it only takes a single successful primary challenge. But to replace a single Lib MP,
    you’d need:
    – first, to defeat that MP in a general election,
    – then, to convince the party’s leadership not to re-appoint the same candidate,
    – finally, to win a nomination race against them.

    Or alternatively, you can try to change the party’s internal rules at the next convention. But instead of simply fighting a single candidate’s political machine, you’ll be confronted with the establishment as a whole once again banding together to block change, likely using "look where the grassroots got us with Dion" as an excuse.

    Of course, it doesn’t have to be done that way: the NDP doesn’t have a candidate appointment process, and doesn’t insulate MPs from nomination challenges. And to some of us, the difference in treatment speaks volumes about the respective willingness of the NDP and the Libs to give a voice to the grassroots.

  • I mostly agree with you. Neo-conservatism, which is what we have, is all about bankrupting the nation to eliminate programs they do not agree with — namely all of them except the military. It has been a trend in Canada far longer than in the US, with Canadian conservatives increasing debt-to-gdp since not long after confederation, with liberals reducing it just as consistently, while US republicans only picked up on this habit under Reagan. Previous US republican administrations actually paid down the debt.

    I don’t agree with Robert that jumping to the wingnut parties makes any sense. Going for the Green party, which believes in addicting government to Bad Things by only taxing Bad Things, or to the NDP which doesn’t appear to stand for much other than the NDP and aims s to polarise Canadian politics by allowing in a Harper majority, thus theoretically allowing a future NDP majority through cutting out the middle, are not ways to move the country forward progressively.

  • I am one of those bloggers who thinks this isn’t worth fighting an election over.† I argued previously that the government should have been defeated.† However, if we were willing to let the government live on the bills that created this mess, we can’t defeat them for acting in a fairly rational way, given their ideological mindset,† now that the mess exists.† It is not that I don’t want this government to fall, I just want it to fall in a way so that it stays felled.† I don’t think the Canadian people would accept the argument that the first two budgets (which were far more radical) were okay, but this one is unacceptable.

  • The democrats have no other alternatives, Scott. Liberals do and those more progressive liberals you seek are already with the more progressive parties. So you’re plan amounts to doing nothing.

  • <i>I wouldnít worry too much though; if youíve read Andrew Coyneís latest piece you will know that this government is still the biggest spending, per-capita, in real dollars, in Canadian history. So any worries about even minor reductions in the size of government in Canada are greatly exaggerated.</i>

    My dear ALW, that is the whole point.† No tax but spend republicanism is the cornerstone of the modern conservative movement (as much as they pretend otherwise).† The goal is to so bankrupt the country that no government will be possible.† As a plan, it’s perfect in its simplicity.

  • ALW

    Scott,
    What do you know – I completely agree.
    You should note that for conservatives, this is essentially taking a page from the Left, which has successfully managed to ratchet up the size of government, consistently and at time dramatically, over the last 40 years. Once a program is in place, itís very politically difficult to remove it, because groups which derive benefit from it have great incentive to try and keep it. The Court Challenges Program is just one example. So, weíve taken a new tack: give people back their money before the government can spend it on something. Because just as itís easier to spend money than take it away, itís also a lot harder to take it again from people once they have it back.
    I wouldnít worry too much though; if youíve read Andrew Coyneís latest piece you will know that this government is still the biggest spending, per-capita, in real dollars, in Canadian history. So any worries about even minor reductions in the size of government in Canada are greatly exaggerated.

  • No, for now.. I think I’m going to have to agree to do what Jennifer Smith (Runesmith) said in the other thread, and what liberal Democratic bloggers like Kos advocate to those frustrated with the US Democratic Party’s wimpishness on national security issues – subvert from within.

    We simply need to get better more progressive Liberals, and a majority of them in caucus, and in the party’s membership. Right now, I view that as the best means to affect change.

  • Complaining about the Conservatives budget and what it?s doing to our ability to improve this country rings hollow, if you?re unwilling to do anything about it.

    So what will you do about it when the Liberals support the budget? Will you switch your support to a party that didn’t?

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