As predicted, the coalition talk is fading away- at least for Ignatieff- the only focus now seems to be entirely on Harper's historical problems, which are never resolved. Today, the campaign moves to the real debate, and the Liberals begin to frame a clear, what I believe, compelling choice. A 1 billion dollar expenditure, based on the premise "you get the grades, you get to go", a sizeable commitment on education.
When the Liberals decided to put out their corporate tax position last year, my first comments mentioned that this pledge opened the door for new spending initiatives. Previously, there was a "sucking and blowing" component, but the corporate tax savings instantly gave the Liberals fiscal room to put items in the window, without looking overtly irresponsible. Today, Ignatieff wisely puts out the education pledge on the back of the corporate tax cuts, the link is clear, it provides superficial financial cover, but it also puts out the distinct choice. Do you want money for fat cat corporations, or money to send your kids to post secondary education? For all the polling focus, let's not forget the Liberals win all day long on this question, every moment spent on this frame, a net positive.
It's not a huge amount of money, particularly when contrasted with the 6 billion corporate tax figure, the untold billions for planes, further billions for prisons. In fact, the allocation looks a pittance, easily incorporated into a coming fiscal platform to get us to balanced budgets. There is no blowback with this commitment, every conversation will lead to the Conservative commitments, a weakness they simply can't hide from. No matter what the Liberals offer, the Conservatives have given them fiscal cover with their own big ticket items. We are then left to CHOICE, and you can't overstate the significance of this discussion. Also worth noting here, Harper is in such a fiscal bind, his signature announcement yesterday is left to offer far in the future promises, that's all he can do now, his "room" now non-existent, further spending risks mockery.
People can argue about the corporate tax cuts, what the real price is, that is a debate that never ends or brings clarity. That debate is also entirely irrelevant to this frame we now see taking shape, with more to come. Do you want help with education for your kids or help for the big banks? It's a slam dunk proposition, and it explains why Ignatieff didn't bite on the lingering coalition question this morning (even though offered a softball, clear shot at Harper over Flanagan contradicting), because this is our ground and it's rock solid. Today, the campaign turns, let's see if the Liberals can keep it on here.