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January 28, 2009

Budget Bizarreness

The National managed to find the one Canadian working class family that actually believes that the extra $.33 it finds in its pocket each day is going to dig this country out of a recession. ("We spend this dollar. And then the next person spends this dollar.") It sounds like that 1970s shampoo commercial about telling two girlfriends -- but there's much more at stake than great hair. (Even the middle class, who were supposed to fall in love with Stephen Harper all over again via this budget, are getting $.67 a day, unless of course, they can take advantage of the home reno tax credit -- up to $1350 to do home renos or "build a deck at the cottage," as Jim Flaherty suggested.)

There are much more significant problems with this budget, of course. The budget doesn't address the need for EI reform -- even though 50 percent of unemployed Canadians don't qualify for benefits; and EI at least helps to break the fall as Canadians who are out of work try to regain their financial and employment footing.

One of the budget measures that will reward people on social assistance for working part-time sounds a lot like Mike Harris' welfare to work projects of the late 1990s -- except this time there are very few jobs to be found. So by not finding work in the midst of a recession, those social assistance recipients are, in effect, being punished for, what? Being social assistance recipients. This seems to tap into that deep-rooted belief held by many in the far right of the deserving and the undeserving poor.

To be fair, there are some positive initiatives as well. The investment in green initiatives. The investment in social housing. I'm sure if I read the budget line by line, I could come up with many others.

But, overall, this budget lacks focus and vision. By spreading the resources in so many different directions in order to try to buy political favor, this budget is $40 billion dollar deficit-producing budget is really $40 billion ado about nothing. It seems very wrong that you can spend so much money to accomplish so little.

A budget that offers something for everyone? Sure, I'll buy that definition -- as long as you accept that the "something" is politically-fortified crumbs.

On the other hand, the budget managed to tick off the Fraser Institute, and that's definitely something for a neo-conservative government. Bet they never thought they'd see the day.

Related:

Seating Plan for House of Commons:
Useful tool given that Parliament has only been in session five times since June.

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