Tax hike likely unavoidable, Liberal leader says
Ignatieff’s comments were in response to a question from Cambridge business leader John Bell, who wanted to known when the federal debt will be paid back.
“We will have to raise taxes,” but not at the expense of hurting the recovery from this recession. He added that “an honest politician” cannot exclude a tax hike as an option.
“I am not going to load a deficit onto your children or mine,” Ignatieff said.
His speech centred on the need for the federal government to unite people rather than divide them during these trying economic times.
Oh, can't you just hear the "buzz" at the Conservative war room?
Truth be told, there is an inherent risk in being so forthright. Given the economic uncertainty, I'm sure you could manufacture some argument to suggest future prosperity that would avoid tax hike necessity. In terms of short term political calculus, I suspect it would be easy to avoid any talk of a potential tax hike (look at how all three parties denied a deficit in the last election, even though the math was abysmal), especially when the very mention is considered political quicksand.
"We will have to raise taxes", there's you attack ad soundbite, there's your risk. Funny thing, and I may be completely naive here, but I think Canadians will appreciate some "straight talk". This country has been down the deficit road before, we know how it works, and there's a pretty simple equation to counter. Unless we are all fine in burdening our children with massive debt, undoing all the hard work to get us into relative fiscal health, Canadians might be prepared for some frank discussion.
There is a way to pivot, turn this tax issue as a testament to a new kind of leadership, a new honesty, which is something we surely crave. Does the old paradigm still exist, wherein talk of taxes is to be avoided at all cost, wherein any mention is seized upon to bludgeon the fool who raises them or says he will? The Conservatives surely think so, because the first hit piece on their site revolved around Ignatieff's musing on a possible GST hike. I'm not so sure anymore, I think we're in a very sober period, wherein people might look past the most obvious, base argument.
Of course, we'll have to see what Ignatieff means, and if he can weave the possibility into our argument, without being seen as a drag on the economy, at the worst possible time. Apart from that, even critics must have a tinge of respect, when someone volunteers the "T" word, especially when it might not be good politics, but correct conclusion.