Saturday, August 23, 2008

Which Deficit Would That Be Again?

Forecasted federal deficit fails to materialize, ideologues set to eat words

In politics, there are few things more satisfying than seeing a fervent ideologue get theirs.

Today, Liberal MP (and former Finance Minister) Ralph Goodale should be getting ready to eat some of his words, as news has broken that, despite recording a $500 million deficit for the first two months of the 2008 fiscal year, federal receipts have bounced back with another surplus.

"When you look at the deficit that was reported on Friday, now, as a former minister of finance, I would say don't jump to conclusions but this is a worrisome trend," Goodale said in July, "especially since, in the analysis that the Department of Finance put out, they said the reason for this two-month deficit of some $500 million, was erosion of the tax base and increased spending."

"Well, those are the two things that we've been warning the government about for a long time, that they were running very close to the edge in terms of Canada's fiscal situation," he continued.

"We have been solidly in the black for the last decade. If now there are signs that the government's management style and ideology is about to push the country into the red once again, there will be deep concern among Canadians about that."

If the deficit of Ralph Goodale's imaginings had actually come to fruition, that would be one thing.

But today the numbers for the complete first quarter of the government's fiscal year were released, showcasing a $1.7 billion surplus.

Which should leave Ralph Goodale feeling kind of silly. But what should be said about fervent ideologues who aren't smart enough to eat their words?

Consider the recent ruminations by Lindsay Stewart over at the Groupthink Temple:

"In the actual free market, a drop of that scale in projections would be a flaming disaster. Flaherty has played at cutting taxes, thus diminishing revenues all as the American and global economies turned sour. Difficult to practice foresight with one's head tucked up the nether tube. That's the trouble with blinkered ideologues like Flaherty. All evidence to the contrary they will do what will not work because they are believers. Faith has never been kind to the foolish. Canada is now likely to record a budgetary deficit for the first time in over ten years. Any self respecting CEO would have tossed the ambulance chasing fool out onto the sidewalk and beaten him with a stapler for screwing the simple shit up, spend less than you bring in."
The "flaming disaster" Stewart is referring to? A .6% reduction in projected economic growth. That's right -- a whole 60% of a single percentage point.

Which actually has more to do with the flagging US economy than any of this government's policies. But leave it to Lindsay Stewart to continue to cling to the prospects of a deficit even after it's evaporated.

That's the trouble with blinkered ideologues like Lindsay Stewart. Fact doesn't factor very deeply into their ruminations. Not when they've invested so much time and mental energy in flinging accusations of "Canada hatred" at their political opponents.

Of course, both Ralph Goodale and Lindsay Stewart could have saved themselves the embarrassment if they had waited for a deficit to actually pop into existence before ranting and raving about it.

At the very least, Goodale's and Stewart's comments should make for a fairly substantial meal.

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