Friday, November 27, 2009

On shared responsibility

Interestingly enough, while most commentators have rushed off to follow a trail that immediately turned into a dead end, there actually was one fairly significant development on the HST front today which has gone mostly unnoticed:
Personal income tax cuts for Ontarians aimed at taking the sting out of harmonization won't be jeopardized if federal legislation to give the province financial compensation for the change gets derailed on Parliament Hill.

The Ontario government plans to introduce rules on Jan. 1 that would allow Ontarians to keep a larger slice of their paycheques regardless of whether federal legislation that is part and parcel of the province's tax changes also passes, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said Thursday.
Mr. Duncan said the personal tax measures do not require federal approval or funding.

“We are proceeding as though the agreement will pass the federal house,” he told reporters.
Now, it's possible that Duncan's announcement might itself be largely moot in light of the Bloc's declaration that it will "probably" support the Cons' HST bill. But if not, then it looks like the Ontario Libs may have come up with the first successful strategy to actually split up responsibility for the HST and the set of policies linked to it.

Which isn't to say that the declaration comes without its costs, since it effectively negates the McGuinty government's own ability to pretend that the HST and income tax cuts are inextricably linked. But it does make clear that any federal vote on harmonization will affect only the more controversial part of the HST arrangement, sandbagging the Harper Cons with responsibility for the consumer price hike while taking full credit for the attached goodies which nobody wants to argue against.

No comments:

Post a Comment