Saturday, May 12, 2007

Another myth busted

Tories always like to go on about how they're the most fiscally responsible of the parties. A lot of Tories even identify this one issue as their reason for being Tory. It's not surprising then that Tories seem to always be convincing themselves that the NDP is secretly spending wads of money and driving us ever closer to bankruptcy and economic ruin. Popular culture even seems to support this: supposedly, if you're on the left, you're a do-good spender; if you're on the right, you're a prudent saver.

If the current election campaign is any indication, the idea of fiscally prudent Tories is a myth. With ten days to go in the campaign, the Tories are well ahead of the NDP in spending promises. According to
Michael Benarroch, chair of the department of economics at the University of Winnipeg, the value of Tory spending and tax cuts is now up to $888 million. Promised tax cuts and new spending by the NDP, in comparison, total $400 million. Even the Liberals, who have no hope of achieving official party status, much less of forming government, have promised less than the Tories.

These are big numbers, but what do they mean? Well, the 2007-8 Manitoba budget forecasts $11.8 billion in revenue (to $11.6 billion in spending). Tory promises add up to 7.5% of budgeted revenue, more than double the NDP's 3.4%.

The real question is how will the Tories pay for their promises? I'd like to know what programs they'll axe, what assets they'll sell, or what taxes they'll raise or user fees implement to make up for their 7.5% bite out of the provincial budget -- or do they even know? If the Tories aren't that serious about winning, it would explain how they feel they can promise the sun, the moon, and Winnipeg Jets stars to anyone and everyone in the hopes of picking up a few seats. So much for Tory prudence, fiscal or otherwise.

It's the sort of Tory campaigning that makes even Tories not want to vote Tory. Just ask the federal Conservative Party, whose apparent embrace of social spending, Quebec and the environment has some party loyalists mulling over whether to
refound the old Reform Party. No word on whether they've also approached Jean Chr├ętien to succeed Stephane Dion as Liberal leader.

No, the reality is that Tories don't mind spending our tax dollars at all. They don't even mind pouring those dollars right out the window, as long as they're going to pay for the right things. I'm still working out the Tory list of good and bad spending, but here's a summary of what I have so far:

Bad spending: social programs, housing, water stewardship, public education, poverty-reduction, pro-active solutions to crime

Good spending: tax cuts for Tuxedo-ites, selling off public telecoms at firesale prices, overpriced American health care consultants, new jails, bailouts for venture capital fund investors, $180 million private sports franchises

Ten days to go and the Tories are at $888 million. Will the Tories' promises surpass the $1 billion mark? In this election, just who should we worry about breaking the bank?


Anonymous said...

Hey just found your blog - excellent :) I like your use of perspective (history) - something sorely lacking in the media and in public discourse.

Keep up the good work - I will be reading daily

At the Forks

Anonymous said...

All I know is all my friends have gone to Alberta, and I think I am going next. Manitoba is lame.