Echoing Ed Stelmach yesterday, Jim Flaherty declared that taxes would not be increased to kill off the deficit:
Yesterday, finance minister Jim Flaherty forecast a deficit in 2014-15 of $5.2-billion. Though he insists that’s a manageable number from which to restore a balanced budget, he’s not telling us how or when he’d do it. As to how Mr. Ignatieff would go about implementing his fiscal plan, here he echoes Mr. Flaherty’s clarity on what he wouldn’t do, and lack of clarity on what he would do to cut federal expenditures:
“Let’s be clear: I don’t want to increase taxes for individuals and businesses, particularly when we’re trying to get out of an economic crisis. That’s crucial. We’ll have to examine everything in the federal budget to see where we can make savings. Avoid transferring the burden to the provinces. That’s another mistake we made in the 90’s and must not repeat.”
Bullfeathers, Flaherty. One way or another, you're downloading it onto the taxpayers. We're not stupid. Whether it comes in the form of "user fees" (a polite fiction that is still taxation at the end of the day), or program cuts (which, like user fees, merely downloads the expense entirely to the individual).
By taking taxation off the table, Flaherty has made the same crucial error that Stelmach has - he's tied one hand behind his back before he's even started dealing with the deficit. This is at best an election promise, and at worst an outright lie that only George H. W. Bush used in 1988 - it was a lie then too. Bush had to renege on that promise after 1988, and the economic downturn then was comparatively mild.