Saturday, September 05, 2009

Nothing like imminent defeat to focus the mind

"Flaherty promises plan to cut $50B deficit." "Ottawa to unveil road map to zero deficit."

And the peals of laughter rang out across the nation...

Following pressure from Kevin Page and Dale Orr this week on the lack of a plan on the deficit and following Ignatieff's vow to vote against the government, Jim Flaherty announced on Friday that he will come forth with a deficit slaying plan. This should be good. Last fall didn't go so swimmingly and the economic credibility of this government is a major problem:
The Conservatives' last attempt to map out a return to balanced budgets didn't fare well. In January, even as they oversaw Ottawa's slide into deficits for the first time in more than a decade, the Tories officially forecast that they expected to return to balanced budgets in just five years.

But within weeks of the January budget, the economic outlook dimmed considerably, leaving Ottawa's projections in the dust.
And as Michael Ignatieff pointed out yesterday, "We don't actually know what the size of the deficit is," he said in Vancouver.

This Flaherty plan is bound to be a strategic document above all else, with their political survival top of mind. It'll be front and center during an election campaign. One wonders if they'll be able to restrain themselves from veering too overtly into a political position in the document such that they lose credibility once again. Flaherty was musing about spending cuts yesterday. Wonder if the political subsidies will make a reappearance. Steven Fletcher, after all, can't stop talking about it. It's not a major spending item but still, you have to wonder whether it will make its way into the coming plan.

Given the Harper Conservatives' track record of consistently being behind the eight ball and missing the mark, I think we can safely say that Flaherty's plan should be greeted with skepticism. Looking forward to it.