Don Martin: A deficit of logic as the government goes squirrelly on spending
Squirrels came to mind when reading this week’s fiscal update.
Those industrious rodents spent recent months in a frenzy of gathering and burying nuts because they know winter is coming which, unfortunately, has blitzed Central Canada a month before winter actually starts.
But in terms of reflecting current federal fiscal policy, the squirrel has become the most unCanadian species of the animal kingdom.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s update, while welcomed by already-profitable businesses as a juicy handout to keep them from turn-coating on Canada, doesn’t grasp the squirrel concept.
Far from storing up reserves in lush times to sustain the lean, this government continues to spend deficit dollars in heady economic times even knowing far more challenging times lie ahead.
The update gleefully reports that the land is extremely strong while arguing passionately the economy still needs even higher deficits for industrial stimulation.
Thus it rolled out a $14-billion business write-off Wednesday that will goose the deficit by $2-billion to twice their promised $10-billion maximum in the very election year they pledged to balance spending and revenue.
That’s incredibly galling, but it’s doubtful this will generate the backlash which opposition Conservatives hope will show up in the ballot box next fall.
After all, racking up consumer debt to historically high levels, even as rising interest rates begin to bite, has become almost as Canadian as maple syrup.
But kicking any deficit elimination effort multiple mandates into the future doesn’t make for sustainable fiscal policy.
And it delivers a hard knock on Liberal campaign believability as they prepare a new list of re-election promises.
If they’ll so flagrantly break their easily-achievable deficit-elimination promise, they’ll be doubly quick to sacrifice their vows when they face real economic challenges.
And so, despite the behavioral logic in the peanut-sized brain of a common rodent, this government is determined to squirrel away the bonus bucks in good times – and go all squirrelly on deficit spending ahead of the bad.
That’s the Last Word.