Tuesday, October 04, 2011

On labelling

Aaron Wherry has noted that one Stephen Harper answer that struck me as shocking has in fact become a regular Con economic talking point. And it's worth noting both how inaccurate the line about an "expansionary" fiscal policy actually is, and the harmful effects if the public comes to believe it.

To start with, let's note that nothing in the Cons' fiscal policy has changed in the slightest since their June budget - which attempted to claim some job creation out of past stimulus spending, but contained at best some minor tinkering in terms of anything remotely aimed at increasing economic growth (particularly contrasted against the contractionary effects of actually cutting off stimulus programs).

In effect, the Cons have taken what they previous labeled as austerity and deficit-fighting, and simply declared it retroactively to be "expansionary".

Which figures to serve two purposes for the Cons. First, it gives them a position - however ill-founded - against the case for further stimulus that the opposition parties are rightly starting to make as the economic situation in Canada and abroad gets bleaker by the day. And second, if things do get worse, it sets them up to declare that expansionary policy has failed, and thus insist that the beatings have to intensify until morale improves.

And that's why it's particularly important for the opposition parties not to lose the battle of language over what the Cons have done to date. Simply put, the task for this fall should be to dredge up every available example of the Cons declaring their existing budget to be focused on austerity and cuts rather than anything "expansionary" - to make sure that both the Cons and their policies take the blame they deserve.

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