Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How to win lobbies and influence votes

Where have all the conservatives gone? Oh, they've just put on the government's pants.

Geoff Matthews of the Ottawa Sun asks:

Isn't this the same gang that promised to trim federal spending if we gave them the chance to govern? That won over a bunch of voters by saying that Canadians were far better judges of how to invest their own money than a government could ever be?
…or something like that, I guess. Or maybe they've discovered the political advantages of becoming the party of the rock-'em-gently status quo that served the Liberals so well for generations — confining the appetite for regulatory and tax increases just within the limits of allowing the economic expansion that pays for them. (And, yes, any increase of government spending is simply nothing other than an increase in taxes because an increase in tax revenue must pay for it.) Buried within massive budget increases might be a principled desire for fiscal conservatism, but without buyers or sellers for the idea, why would any political party risk its electoral neck for it? For those of you who rest in the assurance that this budget is a political necessity to earn a majority government before the Conservatives can get down to the real business of cutting taxes and spending, well, go ahead and vote for them — you have my most sincere good wishes that your dreams will come true. It can't do any real harm compared to the alternatives, even if it can't make any real difference either… but they're certainly not making a market for fiscal conservative policies. I will admit that I have many affinities with the values of the Conservative party's voter base, but there's no reason for me to suspect that those affinities might extend to the Conservative party itself.

Andrew Coyne, as usual on subjects like this, has the must-read column:
In two years of this “conservative” government, spending has climbed a historic $25-billion. Bear in mind: that’s on top of the wild rise in spending during the Liberals’ last term. The Tories have taken all of that fat, all of that waste, and all of those hundreds of priorities -- and added to them.
Postscripts: The Conservatives' fiscal imbalance "fix" gives enough money for Jean Charest of Quebec to promise income tax cuts if elected. Paul Wells:
This makes the final, definitive mockery of the whole argument about the fiscal imbalance, which for half a decade has been that "the money is in Ottawa, the needs are in the provinces." Apparently the "need" in Quebec was for lower personal income taxes.

We know readers outside Quebec will be grateful for the contribution they've been permitted to make to Jean Charest's re-election fund.
Re. the Conservatives' environmental initiatives: "green" is the default colour of politics, whatever the brand. Get used to it. No, they won't do a thing for the environment, but they'll at least satisfy particular constituencies, provide make-work projects for supporters or at least placate detractors, and increase the government's revenue stream. All hail Green!


Anonymous said...

confining the appetite for regulatory and tax increases just within the limits of allowing the economic expansion that pays for them.

Or, confining the expansion within the limits to which they can destroy the currency without anyone catching on. Either one works, but wrecking the dollar is a hell of a lot more likely to happen in a time of governmental expansion.

My family's income comes nowhere near to the cost of increased taxes, food, energy, automobiles, tuition, insurance and medical costs. I doubt very much that there is any significant economic expansion going on. Just the last gasps of a dying inflationary bubble.

MapMaster said...

Very true, I appreciate the insight. I ought to have said "within the limits of trust in funny money expansion," or at least "monetary expansion."