After Joe Oliver announced his budget date this week, he pivoted immediately to an attack on the Liberals, implying that they did not have what he had -- "a plan and the discipline to follow it." That was rich. Stephen Maher writes:
He warned voters of Opposition plans for “a debt burden our children should not bear.”
He bragged Canada’s debt is half that of the Group of Seven average, adding, “There’s a moral issue here, because to the extent we pile on more debt, we’re basically asking our children and grandchildren to pay for our expenditures.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has added $122-billion to the federal debt since he took office. If Canada has a solid debt to gross domestic product ratio, it is not because of Harper, but because of his predecessors Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, who added only $33-billion in debt from 1993 to 2006.
The Tories were right to borrow to stimulate the economy during the recession, but they should blush when they brag about their record as debt fighters. They repeatedly missed their targets and drove us deeper into debt than necessary, slashing the goods and sales tax and offering boutique tax cuts that cluttered up the tax system without making it fairer or boosting productivity.
It’s the “starve the beast” technique, invented by Ronald Reagan. The idea is you cut taxes, go into debt, then cut spending, which makes it hard for your left-leaning opponents to tax and spend. It’s fair ball, but Canadians are suckers if they let themselves be convinced by millions of dollars in government advertising and endlessly repeated talking points the Tories are the anti-debt party.
The Harperites intend to spend millions of dollars -- $7.5 million -- repeating the line that they are better managers of debt than the Liberals. Paul Martin began to set the record straight yesterday. The message they are sending, said Martin, is "nonsensical."
It's more than that. It's a lie.