Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Brian Topp highlights the fact that any shared sacrifice to address the Cons' carefully-fabricated federal deficit needs to include those who have the most to spare:
Instead of increasing revenues by cutting high income taxes, as promised, American conservatives tipped the United States into a permanent structural deficit – briefly mitigated by Bill Clinton’s administration, and then made worse by George Bush.

The harvest is a multi-trillion dollar public debt, accumulated even during periods of economic growth. Sapping the ability of the American government to respond to recession and economic shock – like the shocks facing the world economy today. In the process, as intended, we have witnessed on of the greatest transfers of wealth from the poor to the rich in world history.

Not in Canada? Like all other industrial economies, Canada foolishly mirrored American tax policy and has paid many of the same prices. The Conference Board of Canada recently reported that the gap between low and high-income earners is every bit as striking in Canada as in the United States. In our modest Canadian way, we too run structural deficits to pay for annual tax giveaways to those among us who need help the least.

Mr. Reagan's tax policies belong in his museum. If these times call for belt-tightening – a highly debatable proposition, to say the least – then let's start among those with the largest belts. A good place would be with a new top-tier income tax bracket, and a careful look at loopholes and giveaways that embarrass even American billionaires – some of whom are now leading the growing chorus for change.
- Aaron Wherry points out how Opposition Stephen Harper once decried the measures to stifle democratic debate that we're seeing from his government.

- And we can only speculate as to what Opposition Stephen Harper would have had to say about a single cabinet minister's use of $3 million worth of Challenger jet flights.

- Finally, Chantal Hebert rightly notes that Harper's grip on his party has only tightened since the Cons took a majority hold on the House of Commons:
In no small part, Harper survived (minority government) by putting iron-clad controls on his cabinet, his caucus and the civil service apparatus at his disposal.

But those who expected such controls to be relaxed under majority rule should think again.
The Conservative majority has also been flexing its post-election muscles in parliamentary committees.

Some of them are morphing into star chambers for the government; places where the Conservatives come to settle partisan scores.

In one instance, Elections Canada and other officials are being hauled in to discuss Conservatives charges that the NDP accepted illicit union contributions to finance its June convention.

In another, the Conservatives want rival journalists working for Sun Media to testify about the CBC’s ongoing battle with the Information Commissioner over access to the corporation’s records.
Be it by design or because circumstances impose it on the government, the energy that the Conservatives no longer have to spend on keeping Parliament on their preferred track will eventually be redirected to a more muscular policy agenda.

But expect MPs to be the last to find out.

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