Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Free Pass

Harper's interview with the CBC last night was instructive for a number of reasons, primarily because it reveals the core talking points the Conservatives want to convey. When asked about achievements of his government, Harper stressed the Economic Action Plan, that was the central economic argument to portray himself as able manager. Much of other other arguments stem from the EAP, it was the catalyst that led Canada through the recession, in a relatively enviable way.

I must say, the Liberals don't seem to have much of a coherent response to the EAP arguments, and this odd void partially contributes to the huge gap the Conservatives enjoy on the economy. During the economic storm, the government reacted and steered Canada through the choppy seas, blah, blah, blah- but it works! Why is it that Harper so easily re-writes history and turns a clear failing into a grand achievement? Canadians might be surprised to realize that it was the LIBERALS that DEMANDED an economic stimulus package, this is the OPPOSITION'S baby, the chronology is clear, precise and entirely irrefutable. And yet, Harper claims ownership, enjoys the "other side" and we get no credit whatsoever??

I remember Flaherty's economic update in the fall of 2008, it was universally panned farce that showed no understanding of the gravity, offered NOTHING in terms of stimulus to deal with the maelstrom. I also remember the opposition demanding a stimulus package as essential to deal with the economic meltdown. I also remember the Liberals using the stimulus as the key consideration to allow the 2009 budget to pass, Harper cling to power. As I recall, you can trace all the "success" of the Economic Action Plan back to an opposition demand, the Conservatives only came on board to save their hide and survive!

Why is it exactly then, that we Liberals have ceded this ground and allowed Harper to adopt the EAP as his crowning economic achievement? Are we afraid that this brings up the coalition, is that the root of apprehension? Hardly a rationale, because the coalition is coming up whether we prefer or not, so rather than take a passive barrage, why not turn the whole discussion on its head! The Liberals rejected the coalition, only because the stimulus was included in the budget, their chief demand, their line in the sand for support, the economy came first. Of course, there was more to be considered, but apparently you can write whatever story you choose, so where is our loosely based non-fiction account? Apparently, we have no attention span in Ottawa, people can revise history at will, so let's partake shall we, particularly when the FACTS are on our side.

The Economic Action Plan is clearly a key Conservative thrust to sell their economic manager narrative. The Liberals have a powerful counter readily available to at least dent this perception and/or highlight their own economic philosophy. Nobody seems prepared to call the Prime Minister on his fictional memory, so it is up to us to make the case. Maybe we are effective, maybe it is all for not, but at the very least an effort is required, as opposed to this unilateral avoidance which basically says "uncle" on a core file and all the arguments that stem from this central distortion.

20 comments:

Mark Francis said...

And yet, in arguments in comment threads all over, I see conservatives blaming the deficit on Liberals, claiming that they were the ones who wanted a stimulus package. I realize these are just supporters arguing, but the cognitive dissonance in their heads must be something else.

Also lost is that Harper created a structural deficit before the stimulus came along. He cut the GST too deep, and spent far too much.

Steve V said...

Really? So even conserative supporters know that the EAP is our baby, but we choose to let Harper have it as key sales pitch?

Tof KW said...

Steve, you should know by now the Reformers are nothing but self-serving children. All good comes from them, and all bad is the Liberal's fault.

Steve V said...

A bit odd, the PM uses the EAP as a triumph, his supporters something thrust on him by lefties.

Tof KW said...

That's to help the supporters sleep at nights. That and thinking things will be different if Harper wins a majority.

Otherwise they would have to face the cold fact that this supposedly conservative PM owns the biggest spending, most overly-bloated government in Canadian history.

Rotterdam said...

Canadians realize that a EAP under the Liberals would have been far worse for the deficit. The Liberals themselves complained it was not enough.
Harper played it smart by involving the provinces and the municipalities. It sped the proccess, increased efficiencies, and made for happy local councillers and MPP's from all parties (Smitherman a case in point)

Steve V said...

LOL, the Libs pushed for going directly to municipalities.

JimmE said...

... um correct me if I'm wrong, but my recollection is that the present PM & his failed Ontario Finance Minister denied we were in a recession in the budget that almost lead to the coalition of the evil. That it took the organization of said coalition before a shocked PM realized we might actually be in a recession, yup that's leadership. All the present PM knows how to do is break things & shovel money to the Military Industrial Complex. (change of subject ALERT!) I would love to know how many US Defence contractor's contributed to the present PM's leadership campaign.

Steve V said...

I reminder of that 2008 fall economic statement "In Their Own Words" is required.

Michael said...

Liberal MPs should push the record-correcting information out at press conferences while standing in front of the EAP signage and backdrop that the CPC uses.

Tof KW said...

Rotterdam said...
"Canadians realize that a EAP under the Liberals would have been far worse for the deficit."

No, only the 30% that are solid Reformatory supporters spew that talking point. Anyone with a brain remembers the Lib's fiscal track record between 1993 to 2005, and about Paul Martin's $10 surplus built up in case of recession ...spent by Harper within his first year in office.

Also the Libs would not have cut the GST (they would cut income taxes like during the previous decade, to reduce a tax that punishes people for working harder) and thus not be in structural deficit before the recession even hit.

So if the Grits were still governing and even if their EAP spending amount was higher, then the resulting deficit would still be way below Harper's.

That and the Grits wouldn't employ a proven total-failure like Flaherty as finance minister. They have a wealth of experienced fiscal-conservative talent to choose from for that position.

Steve V said...

Also worth noting that prior to the stimulus, the Cons were spending at a faster clip than the previous Martin government. I mean, you guys can spew whatever you chose, but there is absolutely no statistical evidence to support it, it's just baseless partisan delusion. Face it, big spenders we've never seen!

Kirk said...

The EAP is only the "opposition's baby" when Conservative supporters talk about the deficit never when they talk about the recovery.

Steve V said...

..then it's their grandest of achievement as their steady hand guided us through troubled waters.

Kirk said...

If my dimming senses serve me correctly, the Liberals never really embraced the the stimulus and EAP Plan after the "coalition" dust had settled outside of voting for the budget because they expected the recession to be deeper and the economic recovery to be slower.

They were looking to use the recession to under cut the Conservatives instead of embracing the stimulus and what admittedly, seemed like a recovery that would be far of in the distance.

Also, Harper never really was embracing the stimulus before forced to do so but once it was in the budget he knew that when given what seemed like lemons to him he should still try and make lemonade out of them.

Good thing is, a citizens, we got some good economic policy that we likely never would have seen otherwise.

Bad thing is that the Liberals didn't have faith in their economic convictions and it was probably more of a way to get out of actually going through with the coalition than a well considered faith in Keynesian economics.

Harper lacks that faith as well but he did a better job of playing the hand he was dealt.

Steve V said...

No, stimulus was the key demand of the coalition. The Liberals argued this from day one, and the coalition threat forced the gov't to put stimulus on the table, prior they said it wasn't necessary. Stimulus was in the original coalition accord. The chronology is pretty clear if my memory serves ;)

Kirk said...

Sure but I still think they either loss faith in it after fact or just decided to use the recession against the Conservatives, a time honoured strategy, instead of risking themselves sharing the blame for a slow recovery.

Though given the mixed GDP numbers for July through to October maybe Harper's grand "steady hand" will be seen as more shaky than steady.

Steve V said...

Ahh okay, yes they did drop it after the budget, thinking Harper would "wear the recession". I still think we need to remind, that the greatest economic achievement was our demand for budget passage. Plenty of soundbites, visuals, stuff on record to at least muddy the waters. Giving Harper free reign on this issue is a mistake IMHO.

rockfish said...

"...Lib's fiscal track record between 1993 to 2005, and about Paul Martin's $10 surplus built up in case of recession ...spent by Harper within his first year in office.

Also the Libs would not have cut the GST (they would cut income taxes like during the previous decade, to reduce a tax that punishes people for working harder) and thus not be in structural deficit before the recession even hit."

Income tax cuts vs GST gimmick cuts? Well, well, now that the Bank of Canada has been squealing about Canadians' debtload, their recently inflated interest in borrow and spend (hey, why isn't Harper running on that slogan? It's his gov't to a T) let's take a look at what nearly all 'real' economists* were telling us about these GST cuts that helped hoist Harper on us. 'Dumb', 'Stupid' etc. seem to jump to mind.
Canadians now carry an incredible burden of personal debt, having borrowed for houses, borrowed on their houses to be good shepherds and purchasing like crazy.
While Harper fiddled, the economic foundation got a tooth ache. Removing Harper would be like having a root canal done -- you'll feel better once he's gone.

marie said...

Ditto rockfish;

While Harper fiddled, the economic foundation got a tooth ache. Removing Harper would be like having a root canal done -- you'll feel better once he's gone.

I can't stand this toothache any longer. Lets rid the tooth ache ASAP. I can't even stand watching him doing interviews. He must think Canadians are as stupid and as useless as himself and as stupid as his supporters.