Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mankiw on raising taxes

This is a notable development in the U.S. conservative spectrum, an op-ed from Gregory Mankiw in the New York Times today dares to talk about raising taxes and on the middle class, at that: "Too Much Wishful Thinking on Middle-Class Tax Rates."
Which brings us back to the middle class. When President Obama talks about taxing the rich, he means the top 2 percent of Americans. John A. Boehner, the House speaker, talks about an even thinner slice. But the current and future fiscal imbalances are too large to exempt 98 percent or more of the public from being part of the solution. 
Ultimately, unless we scale back entitlement programs far more than anyone in Washington is now seriously considering, we will have no choice but to increase taxes on a vast majority of Americans. This could involve higher tax rates or an elimination of popular deductions. Or it could mean an entirely new tax, such as a value-added tax or a carbon tax. 
To be sure, the path ahead is not easy. No politician who wants to be re-elected is eager to entertain the possibility of higher taxes on the middle class. But fiscal negotiations might become a bit easier if everyone started by agreeing that the policies we choose must be constrained by the laws of arithmetic.
Mankiw, as noted in the brief bio at the end, was a Romney adviser but more importantly was an adviser to President George W. Bush as well and is a leading light for U.S. conservatives. Talk of raising taxes, any taxes, as we know is anathema for them but things seem to be changing. What prudent conservatism is supposed to be about, after all, is balancing budgets and fiscal discipline and all that.

And you don't have to agree with the rest of the content of Mankiw's column, which trots out Romney's campaign talk on relative percentages of paid income taxes as between the wealthy and the middle class, to take away from it the point that he is now willing to speak of raising taxes. It's good for the House Republican bunch to hear that key message from one of their own.  

We, of course, have a VAT, the Americans don't. And while we don't have a carbon tax, unless you live in B.C., it's quite the thing to see this notable American conservative float it.

2012 in viral video






The Guardian's version of 2012's top viral videos. Some classic political moments from the year are featured. And what do you know, a Canadian with a British connection makes an appearance near the very end for his very Nixonian protest during a British media interview.

My apologies for such a predictable year end blog post, ho hum. I'd go with a Canadian version but I don't think one exists.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pondering Lincoln



Haven't seen it and not sure I want to after watching David Carr eviscerate Spielberg for it. This is fun.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday night



Crazy "drop," as the house peeps put it, but it's growing on me. I close out the year with....drum roll...Kaskade!

Have a good night!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Republicans on the no new taxes road to ruin

The Republican party in the U.S. has taken that road for almost two decades now and our Prime Minister has imported that no new taxes philosophy to Canada. Conservative sycophants all over the country have followed his lead. Yet at years end, take a look at what's happening in our neighbour to the south. The budget negotiations in the U.S. over the fiscal cliff have laid bare where the absolutism of the no new taxes stance can take you. Instead of permitting tax increases on upper income earners, the Republican radicals would rather let the fiscal cliff kick in and cause tax increases for all Americans and massive spending cuts, sending the U.S. into recession. Tying themselves in knots over being seen to raise taxes. The New York Times has a story today on how the Republicans arrived at this place: "How Party of Budget Restraint Shifted to ‘No New Taxes,’ Ever."

It's the road the Conservative Party of Canada is on as well, and possibly, other federal political parties if they continue to bow to Conservative political pressures. We are not on a fiscal cliff but we do have a structural deficit and other major challenges.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday night



Howdy all! Hope you're having a good week and surviving the holiday busyness and various and sundry politicking all across the country. That's an excerpt above from Jeremy Olander that should be, of course, about twice as long. Very nice and it needs to be loud, very loud. Thought about going with something more mellow, seasonal, but then...no. Quite enough of that elsewhere, malls and the like. So progressive house it is.

Have a good night!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Seen in Ottawa


Two people who enjoy politics very much, consulting about leadership advice, etc. Very nice photo.

That is all.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

"Panic all over" on the F-35 at Mr. Harper's feet

If this is true, that aerospace contractors are suddenly all aflutter given the news out of Ottawa on the F-35, then it's squarely on the shoulders of Stephen Harper and his government: "‘It’s panic all over’ as Ottawa rethinks F-35 purchase." Harper and his crew inflamed and sensationalized the jobs issue for contractors for political reasons when they had no need to do so. Here's a reminder of Harper in high form on the F-35s back in the day of 2010:
“To do what Mr. Ignatieff and his allies suggest now is to put in jeopardy every single job in this room and every single job that depends on the aerospace industry with no possible upside whatsoever for the Canadian air force,” he said. “Their position here is playing politics with the lives of our men and women in uniform and the jobs of the people in this room, and we will not stand for it.”
That's what the Prime Minister of Canada did while on site at one of these contractor locations. It was totally inappropriate.

The Memorandum of Understanding that Canada is a party to and that permits contractors to bid for jobs pursuant to, is the principal contract that has always governed our bidding regime. It provides for companies to bid and we paid money in joining this regime in order for these companies to do so. The contracts were never guaranteed to Canada but given our aerospace sector, the contracts came. They may continue to do so.

Some of the panic might have to do with a contractual conflict between what aerospace contractors signed with Lockheed Martin versus what Canada's Memorandum of Agreement with Lockheed Martin states. Again, that's something that never should have happened in this mess but all these people are grownups and they knew all these details. The contractors seemed to be willing to go along with Lockheed Martin to in effect pressure the government into buying the F-35. But governments are ultimately controlled by we civilians, thankfully, and this one finally has had some sense knocked into it by the astounding costs of this plane and the sheer risk now to their political viability (Conservatives of conscience, time to step up, hello).

Back to the main point, setting up aerospace contracts as a condition of our purchase of the F-35...that framing is all on the shoulders of Stephen Harper. And it is partly why this entire episode is so sorry. People's jobs are not political playthings to be gamed for electoral success. But this is the era Stephen Harper has ushered in, so now let's make him live with it. Maybe all those areospace types might want to re-think their photo-op availabilities next time someone comes knocking too.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

December 6th, 1989

Where were you? I will never forget. I was in my first year of law school in Windsor and watched this, or maybe it was a CTV report, on the national news with my roommate Marian. There was no internet (!), no smart phones, no Twitter, no blogs, nada. This is how we saw the news, old school. We were shocked, horrified, stunned. I remember the nighttime, the December cold and thought about a dear girlfriend in Montreal who I called that night. I graduated from McGill in the summer of 1989 and felt a special connection to the city. At the law school the next day and for a while, there was a lot of camaraderie, a closeness, a sharing of what we felt.

Every year on this day, like most of us, my thoughts are about those women and the horror they lived. It is still a day that leaves you with utter sadness and a lump in your throat about their loss. Never forget.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Mercer does Liberal leadership



Addressing the supporter category the party has adopted: "an astounding experiment in democracy." Could be indeed!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Electoral reform debate - video

Parkdale High Park Liberal Debate on PR vs FPTP Part 1 from June Macdonald on Vimeo.

For those who are interested, this is the first 20 minutes of our debate (more to come) held on November 15th in Parkdale-High Park on the topic of electoral reform. The introductory statements by the debaters begin at around the 7:00 minute mark.

It's relevant to a national debate that's taking off on electoral reform, so this was a happy incident of timing. Mr. Dion's presentation of his electoral reform proposal at the Green Party convention at the end of the summer was our jumping off point in deciding to pursue this topic.

Hope you find it informative.

A big thanks to Fair Vote Canada, the debate co-sponsor, for videotaping it and sharing and of course to all the PHP Libs who kicked in as a team to hold this substantive event.

More on cooperation

Noted in this op-ed about the Calgary Centre byelection aftermath:
Leadership is important but it may not be party brass and power-brokers who usher in co-operation. If it happens, it is much more likely to occur at the local level when frustrated political activists and volunteers devise new strategies for coming together to defeat Conservatives.

To that end, a meeting has already been planned for this week in Calgary. The anti-Conservative faction may have lost the byelection but they haven’t given up hope.
This democratic element of local organization is something that is usually overlooked in all the debate over cooperation in favour of what leaders and party brass have to say.

Democracy is messy sometimes and how you deal with it in politics can be telling.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Joyce Murray's Vancouver launch



That's video of Joyce Murray's Vancouver launch that happened Saturday afternoon. I recommend watching the full video as by the end of it you'll get a good sense of what she's about and the bold policies of her platform thus far. It is Sunday after all, come on...you have time to watch a video. If you do need to get right to the heart of it, skip to about the 7:00 min mark and following for the official Vancouver based declaration of her candidacy and continue on from there. She was clearly happy and comfortable with her home crowd of about 200.

There are a few good quotes in the accompanying Georgia Straight article as well that is worth reading. There's this, on the party:
"Liberal governments have introduced most of the practical and bold initiatives that have made this country great," Murray said to a capacity crowd at the Jericho Saling Centre meeting room. "And that's what we need right now: a vision that's not only bold, but is achievable through experience and pragmatic decision making."
Continuing with that thought about the tradition of the party and its bold initiatives, there's more on the cooperation plank that is getting some favourable attention:
"I am against a merger," Murray noted, "but what I am for—for the next election only—is working with my party to adopt a system of voluntary cooperation at the riding level with riding associations having the veto."

She added that the "worst thing would be to continue to let Prime Minister Harper and his government dismantle our democracy and dismantle our social-safety net, and more than that, dismantle our environmental-safety net".

"I find it unimaginable that we can't find the will to cooperate on these key issues for Canadians," she said. "So I will be leading the charge on that."
 One more excerpt on another of her policies:
"In Canada, we have to end the phoney debate in Parliament," she said. "We need to put a price on carbon, and I will work with Canada's CEOs to discuss the best way to implement this carbon price and ensure that they have the predictability and stability that business needs. Business does need to be involved here and be a leader."
Murray is clearly not shying away from big issues of the day that need to be addressed.

Have a great Sunday.