Eugene Lang writes that, if you want to know what Stephen Harper has "accomplished," all you need do is tally up his tax cuts:
Over the past eight years, most major categories of federal taxes have been cut deeply — from personal income taxes, to corporate income taxes, to the GST — so much so that Canada now has the second lowest business and consumption taxes in the G7. In addition, a litany of tax credits have been put in place, notably the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, the Public Transit Credit, The Home Renovation Tax Credit and The Tax Credit for first time home buyers. And added to the list is income splitting for seniors — another major tax cut — which the government has committed to extend to families once the deficit is eliminated.
As you might expect, a tax jihad of this magnitude, like all wars, drains the treasury. One credible estimate pegs the total value of these tax cuts to be on the order of $45 billion annually in foregone revenue. To put that figure into context, it’s about one third more than the annual cost of Old Age Security, the biggest and most expensive federal social program, and about two and a half times the size of the federal deficit.
There are consequences to draining the national treasury:
Federal revenue has been reduced to its lowest level relative to the economy in two generations. As a result, Ottawa’s capacity to author significant new programs — to deal with issues like income inequality, rising health-care and post-secondary education costs, and an aging population — is neutered, especially when no political party is willing to make the case for substantially increased revenue and all are committed to balanced budgets.
Harper has delivered on the central Conservative dogma -- taxes are evil. But what is even more disturbing is that the two main opposition parties have also bought into the anti-tax mania. Tax cutting began under Jean Chretien and Paul Martin. Now the NDP also touts the doctrine of minimum taxation:
The NDP argues for incremental revenue restoration through tweaks to corporate income tax rates and possible increased taxes on the highest income earners, both of which are largely symbolic and will do little to unwind the fiscal structure the Conservatives have put in place.
In other words, the three major parties have all had a hand in crippling government.