Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Justin's Main Stream Economic Vision

The details are lacking, Tom Walkom writes, but Justin Trudeau's economic vision is becoming clear. First, there is his focus on the middle class:

Trudeau’s argument here is that both poor and rich gain when the middle class prospers.

For the poor, a strong middle class represents a “ladder to stability and security.” Put simply, this means that a minimum-wage retail worker, while unlikely to become a corporate CEO, has a fair chance at getting a well-paid factory job — but only if such jobs exist.

For the wealthy, Trudeau says, a satisfied middle class diminishes the threat of voters electing a government hostile to the free-market “growth agenda.”

Second, there is the matter of taxes:

In his speech, Trudeau said only that he would not raise taxes on the middle class. But in an earlier interview Saturday on CBC Radio, he went further, ruling out any kind of tax hike.
“I don’t think we need to raise any taxes,” he said. “We are not going to be raising taxes."

On that score, he is simply repeating Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair's line. Which brings us to the deficit:

Trudeau’s language on government finances is more sophisticated than that of those who preach austerity. Fiscal discipline, he said Saturday, is important. But in the end, government budgets can be balanced only if the economy grows.

In general, he’s right. Canada’s federal deficit was eliminated in the ’90s by a surging world economy, not by the then Liberal government’s decision to cut spending. 

The real question is, can his  government generate enough growth to eliminate the deficit? Walkom doubts that the world economic engine will repeat its performance in the 1990's.

Finally, Justin -- like Harper -- likes pipelines:

Like Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he wants pipelines built to move Canadian oil and gas to global markets. Like New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair, he wants a “robust environmental policy” to make sure that other nations don’t discriminate against Canadian crude.

He assumes there will be a surplus in 2015. Unlike Harper, he proposes to invest the money in education and infrastructure, rather than in tax cuts.

It's not a radical vision. In fact, it's pretty conventional.


Danneau said...

We live in a physically limited environment, so anyone basing his economic platform on a strategy of growth is either growing elusives or running the planet into the ground. Wall Street is good at producing intangibles and getting people to pay for them with real stuff, but it still amounts to the same thing: the WS crowd only trades their output long enough to sell it to the next sucker, or until the bubble bursts and the taxpayers bail them out. Both Trudeau and Mulcair are men of the '60s and so is Harper, but he's from about 1360.

Owen Gray said...

It's clear that the endless growth paradigm is unsustainable, Danneau.

And nobody -- with perhaps the exception of Elizabeth May -- is talking about that fact.

Anonymous said...

The trouble with Justin's view (that budgets can be balanced without raising taxes if the economy grows) is that it obviously addressed only one issue, balancing the budget.

It clearly fails to address how we are going to deal with paying down the gross national debt that, after Harper's personal contribution of about $150B, would be about $630B by 2015, if and when the Libs take over. Chretien and Martin paid down the debt by some $100B at least, if I recall correctly.

However, for a non Economist, and someone Harper propagandists insist as unqualified to be PM, Justin has shown much better grasp of basic Economic principles than our "paper" Economist PM.

Harper, we recall, was cutting taxes and increasing spending, with the net result that during his tenure, the gross national debt had increased by the amount stated above. And he is not done yet: for instance, consider that the costs of the jets had not even been factored in yet (unless he breaks his promise to replace the aging F-18s). He also blew away some $12B of the rainy day funds that Martin left.

Even more serious is the fact that Harper squandered much of the money away on activities that did not generate any economic growth for the country. Consider the millions wasted on the Economic Action Plan advertisements which generated income only for the fortunate recipients of the advertisements.

Yup, Trudeau Jr. must drive Harper crazy. The guy apparently even understands economics better than the putative Economist PM.

And Justin can do this without apparently even trying.

And Canadians seem to have noticed too, if current polls are to be believed.

Owen Gray said...

Tom Flanagan is writing, Anon, that Canadians have seen through Harper -- which is why his attacks on Trudeau aren't working.

Perhaps they have discovered that Trudeau is a better economist than the man who touts his Master's degree from the University of Calgary.

Richard said...

No, few politicians are talking about it, but thankfully it's becoming more and more common in discussion amongst the people. It's becoming recognized as reality, and that's very important.

Ryan Spinney said...

To be fair my cat understands economics better then Harper, as does my chair. Its not a high achievement. Secondly Mulcair does support corporate tax increases, he supports a fincial transaction tax, and other revenue streams including cuts to oil subsidencies, revenue generatated by cap and trade, removing tax loopholes, and going after tax cheats. So he has a plan for generating tax revenue. Its income taxes he doesn't support raising. The H/Gst I'm not certain about, but I don't think he's interested in that either.
So that does seperate him from fantasy land Justin who has no way to pay for things.

Owen Gray said...

Perhaps the weather has something to do with the public's understanding that the old paradigm doesn't work, Richard.

And let's hope that -- contrary to what Mark Twain said -- not only will the public talk about the weather, they will do something about it.

Owen Gray said...

If Mulcair wants to raise revenue, then he's ahead of both Harper and Trudeau, Ryan. At some point, that topic has to be addressed.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if Trudeau's mouth was a little bigger, he could get both of his feet in it.

I among many have been very impressed by Mulcair. He caught Harper in lies in Parliament, during the expense scandal.

Then there was the fracas in Parliament, over the word *cheating* Mulcair stood his ground. Mulcair would not be silenced.

Mulcair is the best leader of the opposition, this country has ever had.

Owen Gray said...

I have to agree that, during the Senate scandal, Mulcair did his job very well.

It's the Harperites who see Trudeau as their main enemy. Perhaps that's because he drives them crazy.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anon 2:24. To claim Mulcair to be the best opposition leader ever suggests you either need to get your memory checked, PDQ, or learn an awful lot more about Canada's parliamentary history. It's a feeble boast at best. And, as repeated polls show, you and the 'many' in Mulcair's fan club aren't very many at all. Don't let reality hit you in the arse on your way out the door.

Owen Gray said...

On the Senate, Mulcair asked sharp, pointed questions, Mound -- which proved that Harper had absolutely no credibility.

But, as Murray Dobbins suggests, he has not kept faith with the party's principles.

The Mound of Sound said...

Danneau is right about growth, generally, although Canada is one of just a handful of countries that has a sufficient surplus of natural capital, resources, to support some further growth. That said, there are much greater benefits to be had from pursuing qualitative growth over quantitative growth of the sort we've been pursuing in our quest for energy superpowerdom.

We still need to decarbonize our economy and our society and that means weaning ourself off our dependency on fossil fuels, something that has brought chaos other petro-states.

Trudeau can't, or more likely won't, accept a visionary approach to growth or fossil fuels and, for that, he's not apt to do anything particularly effective for Canada.

The nature of Trudeau Jr. and the Liberals in general is neatly captured in this month's Harper's magazine in an essay entitled, "Nothing Left." It speaks as well of the abandonment of the Left in Canada by the NDP. Both parties are failing Canada with their drift to the Right just as the Democrats have failed America.

The Mound of Sound said...

Owen, I had many opportunities to watch Diefenbaker, David Lewis, and Pierre Trudeau in opposition in the HoC. They not only would have flayed Harper, they would have relieved him of whatever muscle and sinew was left over.

I know that has the sound of "in my days" but it's very true.

CK said...

Or Mulcair is simply not the threat Justin Trudeau is.

Your average Canadian, even those who bother to vote, don't vote on substance. They vote on style. Trudeau has it. Mulcair doesn't.

Sure Mulcair did his job cross examining, but your average voter does not pay any attention to the happenings in the House of Commons; certainly not question period. And was Mulcair really that effective? I always learned that the most effective cross examinations' goal was to throw their opponent of their script. He has not succeeded in that -- Harper & his puppets like even the dimwitted parroting Paul Calandra have held fast.

Trudeau appeals to the heart. In addition to his looks, he is likeable; even approachable. Mulcair, not so much.

Jack Layton was the guy folks wanted to have a beer with--thus, his campaign strategy of tending bar in a hockey jersey in some Montreal sports bar was effective. Anyone see Mulcair doing that?

I have said this often. We progressives live in a bubble and think that folks are as in tune as we are. They are really not. They happily swallow whatever corporate media feeds them and then happily switch to the happenings of Tinseltown in a hurry -- gotta know what Justin Bieber's erratic behaviour, or Miley cyrus' latest stunt or who the Kardashians are sleeping with. The most political they get is wondering what Kate is wearing to give birth to her baby.

Hard to take for many, but it's the sad truth.

Justin Trudeau is seen as the white knight who will nurture.

Owen Gray said...

I'm sure they would have, Mound. I have a conservative friend in Ottawa -- no supporter of Harper -- who used to sit in on Question Period when Stanfield, Lewis and Trudeau led their respective parties.

He says the debate was sharp. But the three men respected each other. Harper respects no one -- not even the members of his own caucus.

Owen Gray said...

I was disappointed to hear Trudeau support pipelines, Mound. He could have said a great deal about energy. But all he said was that we had to be environmentally responsible.

What that means is scaling back Tar Sands development -- and he refuses to go there.

Owen Gray said...

They call it charisma, CK. For the moment, Justin seems to have it. Mulcair never did.

Harper and his bobbleheads will repeat themselves like broken records. But, too his credit, Mulcair has exposed Harper as completely unbelievable.

In the end, though, Canadians need someone to vote for, more than they need somebody to vote against.