The Xerox Budget
Analysis of the 2010 Federal Budget by David MacDonald, coordinator of the CCPA’s Alternative Federal Budget:
If there was any policy recalibration due to prorogation, it was on their photocopier as 94% of this budgetâ€™s spending has already been announced.Â The problem when you photocopy your work is that you donâ€™t learn anything from the process.Â That is certainly true of the Harper government.Â The Conservative reforms to EI were meant to help more of the jobless, yet half of all unemployed Canadians still canâ€™t access EI.Â The concern last year was that EI recipients would exhaust their benefits before they got another job and that is exactly what is happening.Â Last yearâ€™s plan isnâ€™t working to address this yearâ€™s challenges.
It also appears that the Harper government isnâ€™t seeing what most Canadians are seeing which is plenty of advertising and little actual building of infrastructure.Â Instead of cutting red tape to get infrastructure programs moving, the government is cutting regulations on uranium mines.
Government spending is capped more generally with strategic reviews forcing departments to cut 5% of their programs when the review gets to them.Â The glaring omission to these caps is the defense department that continues to grow at its pre-established rate until 2012 when the growth rate slows slightly.Â Although there is plenty of talk about Canadaâ€™s positive role in Haiti and Afghanistan, international development spending that makes that possible has been capped making these types of interventions much harder in the future.
What is little advertised in this budget is that much of the deficits going forward are being caused by the continuing corporate tax cuts worth on average $4 billion a year over the next 3 years.Â It is also worthwhile noting that while building stimulus infrastructure ends next year, the tax cut measures introduced as stimulus will continue to erode revenues indefinitely.
The 6% of newly announced programs are more weighted with fluff than actual new spending.Â Similar to last yearâ€™s stimulus budget, there is no coherent vision for the future.Â There is a smattering of small new spending efforts with a lot of padding for government programs that are paid for out of existing funds.Â Seniors are given their own holiday, but no action on pensions is taken.Â Some small new amounts are spent on university research, but nothing is done to address crippling student debt.
Despite its title, this isnâ€™t a leadership budget, it is an acceleration of Harperâ€™s Americanization of Canada with â€œrace to bottomâ€ corporate tax rates, and an ever expanding military.Â The jobless are left to fend for themselves and national planning for the future beyond balanced books is completely off the table.Â While the military is exempt from spending caps, addressing foreign policy goals like rebuilding Haiti after the earthquake are a secondary priority as international development funding also gets capped.Â All in all, this is much more representative of the Conservatives vision of Canada, unfortunately it has nothing to do with a proactive vision for the future.