Monday, May 25, 2009

Deficit Jim: bringing Canada "substantially more" deficit since the mid-90's

Whoopsie. We don't call him Deficit Jim around here for no good reason, you know...:) A major admission from the Conservative Minister of Deficit this afternoon, finally 'fessing up and still doing for Canada what he did for Ontario:

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Monday the federal deficit will be "substantially more" than the government projected in January's 2009-2010 budget.

The initial deficit forecast was $34 billion. But Flaherty said that government revenues have been hit harder by the recession than expected.

"We will run a larger deficit in this year than anticipated in January, and I'll report further on that when the government reports to the people of Canada and Parliament in June with our update," he said.

You know, I think they'd be better off in funding the Parliamentary Budget Office properly and not trying to muzzle that office. The PBO has, after all, been better on the deficit numbers than Flaherty and when Kevin Page testified about the worsening state of the deficit in front of a parliamentary committee at the end of March, the Conservative members metaphorically plugged their ears and complained about not hearing anything "positive" from him:
Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page told the House of Commons finance committee that the current recession will be "sharper" than the one Flaherty spoke of when he tabled the budget on Jan. 27 and that means deficits that will be deeper and thousands more Canadians are likely to lose their jobs.

He also said Canada's economy has slowed more rapidly than during the recessions of the 1980s and 1990s.

"We think what we're seeing now is absolutely historic in terms of quarter-to-quarter declines," Page told the finance committee Wednesday.

Page said that new economic data released since Jan. 27 has led his office's forecasters to conclude that the Conservative government's predictions are too optimistic, a message that seemed to annoy some Conservative members of the finance committee.
So, it's taken the stubborn Conservatives two months to catch up to Page, who predicted in that testimony, that we're in for $9 billion more in deficit than present Finance estimates from Flaherty. How's that for some of the patented "Stephen Harper: Leadership" in action? The economic management record will be a big issue for the Conservatives in the next election and clearly, it's why they like to distract.