Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Jim Stanford reminds us that any drama as to whether Canada's budget will be balanced this year is entirely of the Cons' own making through pointless tax slashing:
Running spending cuts since 2011 now total more than $14-billion a year. Canadians experience real consequences from those cuts every day: shuttered veterans’ offices, deteriorating statistical data, questionable railway and food safety, ridiculous waits for statutory benefits and more. Federal government employment has plunged by 47,000 jobs since 2011 – explaining much of Canada’s lousy job-market performance. These sacrifices were not necessary. Worse yet, the government is throwing away the savings with its tax-cut agenda.

Indeed, if the government truly believed that balancing the books was the most important priority, we could be back in the black right now, never mind next year. Before opening the cookie jar in October for income-splitting and other giveaways, Ottawa was headed for a $3.3-billion surplus for the fiscal year ending March 31. Falling oil prices knocked $1.2 billion off that balance, according to the PBO, leaving a $2.1-billion surplus. But the government spent $3.2-billion on the immediate first-year cost of the tax cuts – pushing itself back, incredibly, into deficit. Without the tax cuts, the budget would already be balanced, even with low oil prices.

It’s not prudent to count your chickens before they hatch. The Conservatives were so anxious to lock in tax cuts and corner the opposition that they consciously pushed the budget back into the red. Now, with plunging oil, that deficit looks bigger. No wonder Finance Minister Joe Oliver is delaying his budget.
- Tavia Grant reports on how the shredding of the long-form census has created serious data quality issues for. But the Cons may not have noticed in light of their propensity for ignoring any evidence which doesn't fit their political plans.

- Jennifer Ditchburn reports that Canada's independent offices of Parliament want nothing to do with the Cons' plans to disqualify anybody with an interest in government from seeking to improve it. And Doug Howat notes how the bill fits into the Cons' wider pattern of trying to attack messengers rather than defending policy choices.

- Charles Blow calls for the U.S. to take much-needed action to reduce child poverty. But Bryce Covert notes once again that any economic growth is being funnelled into the pockets of the 1% rather than benefiting the general public.

- Finally, Helena Smith reports on Syriza's first days in office and Greece, and notes that we now have confirmation that a government can deliver on transformative promises.

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