Mulcair is wrong on the deficit: cozying up to the neocons
Associate Professor, Laurentian University
Co-editor, Review of Keynesian Economics
Follow him on Twitter @Lprochon
First, it was his enthusiastic support and admiration of Margaret Thatcher; now it is his overzealous support of balanced budgets. Whatâ€™s next? What is Mr. Mulcair ready to do to get the keys to 24 Sussex? How close is he willing to get to neocons to move in?
It turns out, there is nothing NDP-ish anymore about the NDP. That old party is gone. Buh-bye!
Adrift, rudderless â€¦ pick your word, they all describe what the NDP seems to have morphed into under Mr. Mulcair, who seems to have brought the once proud party of social justice to the right. At first, it was done inch-by-inch, almost stealth-like. Many NDP supporters were ready to tolerate this for the sake of unity, but his salivating admiration for Thatcher and now his love of balanced budgets have gone too far.
To many supporters, his latest musings on the deficits will come across as a deep betrayal of something they once held dear: the idea that the State can be transformative. But Mr. Mulcairâ€™s metamorphosis is a shameless political ploy aimed at deceiving supporters, but gaining the respect of others. Where once the NDP played the honoured role of moral compass under Ed Broadbent, they have now become greedy, as polls show their growing support among Canadians. Mr. Mulcair can taste victory, and he likes it. In his quest for power, he has become ready to abandon the core principles of the NDP, and leap over the throngs of core supporters to embrace some aspects of neocon ideology.
But in embracing balanced budgets, Mulcair has also endorsed all the right-wing rhetoric and lies that come with it. On the campaign trail, Mulcair has said in response to Trudeauâ€™s promise of infrastructure spending, â€œI am tired of watching governments put that debt on the backs of future generations.â€ Later, he said â€œMr. Trudeau seems to have the same approach as Mr. Harper – they both want to live for today and let tomorrow take care of itself â€¦ Thereâ€™s a reason why we want to be good public administrators with balanced budgets, because if weâ€™re not, then weâ€™re not going to be able to have the types of programs that we all believe in going into the future.â€
After my jaw dropped, I rolled my eyes.
In choosing those exact words, Mr. Mulcair has revealed himself to be a neocon wolf in NDP clothing. But he has also revealed himself to be a provincialist politician, with zero knowledge of the role of a federal government, and even less knowledge of economics.
To be honest, I am quite tired of Jonny-cum-lately politicians making these grand and sweeping statements on economics, as if they actually understood what was going on. I am also quite tired of the â€˜backs of future generationsâ€™ argument, when the reality is quite different.
How do we saddle these future generations of ours? When we spend on education, health care, electrical grids, internet and wifi systems, better roads, better bridges and dams, renewable energy and more, we are leaving them a better infrastructure and a stronger economy. This is not saddling them with anything, quite the contrary, we are ensuring a better future for them. The idea that they will be saddled with debt and will face higher taxes is the core of neocon thinking, a scare tactic aimed at whipping us into docility. If anything, a stronger economy will generate more revenues for the government and that will certainly alleviate the so-called burden of dent.
The problem for our future generations of course is not deficits, but rather a bad infrastructure. Is Mr. Mulcair willing to let our infrastructure crumble? Does he want his grandchildren to inherit a country whose infrastructure is so rotten that it will take 10 times the spending to even bring it back to what it was in the past? That indeed would be saddling them with an even bigger debt!
In a way, Mr. Mulcair wants to shed his partyâ€™s image as free-spenders. But instead of taking the position that we must invest in our future, he has chosen the cowardly hide behind the unimaginative coattails of Mr. Harper and the neocons.
The choice on October 19 is becoming increasingly clear. On the right, we have Mr. Harper, who at the very least has been consistent in his support of balanced budgets. But the room is now becoming crowded on the right, as Mr. Mulcair has now crossed over. But unlike Mr. Harper, Mulcair is inconsistent. Itâ€™s the old â€˜devil we knowâ€™ adage.
That leaves only Mr. Trudeau, in the center-left to defend the true values of a liberal and anti-neocon agenda.
I always voted Liberal. For the very first time, I was planning to vote for the NDP. Now, Mr. Mulcair has made me realize that under his leadership, I may have to wait a little longer before switching allegiance.
Associate Professor of Economics, Laurentian University
Founding Co-Editor, Review of Keynesian Economics