Tax-and-spend Liberals Spend-and-spend Conservatives

If I were running the Liberal Party of Canada – now there’s a scary thought, for Liberals and for me – this is the message I’d hammer home every day on the campaign trail:

It seems like only yesterday Canada was running surpluses and was led by a fiscally conservative government. Now both seem distant memories, as recently confirmed by the latest news that the Harper government will run deficits even larger than planned and for even longer than planned. Over at least seven years Harper plans to add no less than $170.3 billion more to the federal debt. It is time for Canada to talk about the costs of this spending problem.
Unemployment was a lot higher during the recession of the 1980s and 1990s than it is today, and was similar during the 1970s. When one factors in another relevant economic indicator – inflation – Canada’s much better off during this recession than during any of the last three.
Despite this fact, the Harper government has chosen to go on a giant spending spree. Last fall the prime minister promised a balanced budget, as did all federal party leaders. Much has changed since then. The January budget projected a deficit of $34 billion. In May it was increased to $50 billion. Now the deficit figure has been upped to almost $56 billion. Since revenue has fallen by only $17 billion, this giant deficit figure reveals how massive over-spending is the key deficit culprit. In fact, from fiscal year 2005-06 through 2009-10 the Harper government will have increased program spending by $66.7 billion – a 38-per-cent increase in only four years.
Much of the so-called stimulus spending was “temporary.” It’s turning out to be as temporary as income taxes, when they were “temporarily” introduced in 1917.

5 thoughts on “Tax-and-spend Liberals Spend-and-spend Conservatives

  1. Anshu says:

    I think the problem for the Libs to run that ad is that when Harper introduced no stimulus spending last November, they threatened a coalition with a $50B deficit being bandied about.
    Harper responded by introducing a budget along the lines of the coalition’s request.
    But what we’re seeing now, I think, is a little fun with numbers. The biggest criticism from the left is that the money hasn’t been flowing fast enough. The Tories keep announcing the same spending over and over without actually any money flowing.
    I think Flaherty is now projecting the worst case scenario, to lower expectations, and reality will be the the Conservatives will not have spent as much as forecast.
    They’ll then claim credit for prudent fiscal management as the economy recovers and use this a means to position themselves for a majority.

  2. Dara says:

    The stimulus should really be a political debacle for all parties. It’s almost literally like Ottawa drove a dump truck full of our money over a cliff and are now standing around the smoking wreckage pointing out the tail light their opponent broke in the parking lot the week before.
    As far as lowered expectation go, is there even one significant number that Flaherty has been pessimistic about in the past year?
    One of the drivers behind the big play that Dion et al attempted was that, at the time, Flaherty was blowing smoke up our collective asses.

  3. Ted says:

    None of which explains why Harper was breaking spending records even BEFORE the recession.
    As an aside, Damian, I think the more accurate descriptor would “borrow and spend Conservatives” since, with all of their big spending but no taxes commitments, it means they have to borrow money from foreign investors instead of balancing the books with our own money.
    And this is a defining trait of conservative governments in fact. Reagan, Bush Sr, Bush Jr, Harper, Eves… all of these recent Conservative leaders have borrowed and borrowed and borrowed in order to achieve their spending and government growing objectives.

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