I suppose I want to believe, but simple logic prevents me. The Liberals are once again promising national child-care. Ignatieff's emphatic promise sounds convincing, but realities suggest otherwise. On top of the logistics, there is also the optics, which has led to another round of snickering from critics who've heard this tune before.
To put this issue into context, Ignatieff's pledge comes at the exact time many Quebecers are reviewing their own child-care program, in the face of a relatively smaller deficit. The simple fact of the matter, the federal deficit precludes any big ticket spending initiatives. If Liberals are truly serious about offering new and expensive initiatives, then they must address TAXES. You can't scold Gerard Kennedy, runaway from him as though leper, while simultaneously offering more spending. I'd argue that the notion of balanced budgets without taxes is increasingly unlikely, reaching the level of absurdity when you factor in another 5-6billion for child-care. Yes, yes, I know you can argue the money is augmented by economic benefit, but that's a tough sell from here.
Liberals need to make a choice. We can present ourselves as the party that will deal with the deficit, in a compassionate and prioritized way, or we can try to be everything to everybody(see Paul Martin). Arguing we are in a structural deficit, while arguing we will focus on jobs instead of dealing with it, while arguing that we will greatly increase spending, amounts to GOO- nobody will buy it, it makes no sense on the most basic level, it is ripe for ridicule.
The same kids we want to put in child-care are the ones that will be saddled with this debt, it will be their burden. If you look at the situation in this way, which is simple reality, it nullifies any moral justification. Why not just set up loans for kids so they can go to child-care, because it is essentially what you are doing anyways, when you spend money you don't have.
Having just put two kids through child-care, I can say the Conservative's "check" program amounts to basic nothingness, of so little help to be insulting. Ideally, I would love to have a better program, one that recognizes the needs of modern parents. However, even with my intimate understanding, given the current dire economic situation, I can't justify the need, RIGHT NOW, for a national program- it isn't feasible until we get our house in order.
Politically, the Liberals gain nothing from another child-care commitment, past experience means it won't move votes. If anything, going down this road AGAIN only invokes cyncism and a sense of pandering. Additionally, this proposal presented as our signature "social justice" policy, provokes all kinds of other questions, which we apparently don't want to answer or have no answer. We can pound the table all day long, our emotions might be sincere, but they will always be betrayed by the facts at hand.
Until we are prepared to deal with the TAX side of this equation, there is no room for big promises. It's that simple and my personal want doesn't preclude me from seeing the pure folly. Sorry. Dust off Gerard or stop talking.