Friday, October 21, 2011

Gaffe Alert


Like every leadership contest, we wait for the first sizable gaffe of the campaign. I submit Brian Topp has provided that moment by commiting the CARDINAL sin of entering into hypotheticals, on of all things TAXES:

Brian Topp is boldly going where most Canadian politicians fear to tread: promising to make the wealthy pay more in taxes.

The perceived frontrunner in the NDP leadership race wants his party to make higher income taxes for high-income earners a key plank in its next election campaign platform.

He told The Canadian Press he intends to unveil a detailed proposal in the weeks to come.

"I will be talking about income taxes and I think it's time for our party to step up to that plate and to be pretty clear about that because then we'll have a mandate to act if we're elected," Topp said in a wide-ranging interview.

He also called for a hike in corporate taxes and did not rule out a sales tax increase "at some point," once the fragile economy is on surer footing.

At some point? I actually think Topp could find broad support for "tax the rich", this notion of a growing gap between rich and poor is resonating, perhaps fertile ground, bold but not reckless necessarily. As for corporate taxes, we need a debate about this race to zero mentality, again I think Topp isn't terribly "out there", although he does open himself to the easy "anti-jobs" attack line. Where Topp makes a perhaps huge gaffe, actually musing about raising sales taxes, leaving the door open on an idea which will be met with complete and utter rejection.

A more seasoned politician simply says, "a sales tax increase isn't part of my plans", and let's move on. Instead, Topp leaves room for saddling Canadians with more taxes, forget the philosophical or economic arguments, pure political poison no matter how you slice it. Canadians feel maxed out, the Conservatives have already exploited sales taxes to win a mandate, there is no political upside in this consideration. Topp reeks of a certain disconnect, in the soundbite world, this statement is pure gold, while he will be left explaining details nobody entertains.

Topp's ideas may be attractive to rank and file NDP supporters, but for a party that needs to broaden support, Topp is narrowing appeal, reinforcing baggage that prevents the NDP from capturing mainstream Canada (obviously Quebec aside). I will raise taxes on business, I will raise taxes on certain individuals and I will raise taxes on everybody. Honest yes, pure fodder for the Conservatives, oh my goodness YES, YES, YES, the ads write themselves.

Cutting the GST was actually a ill advised move by the Conservatives, wherein they pandered for votes at the expense of sound tax policy. However, Topp looks every bit the man who "has never been tested" with what amounts to a rookie mistake. I don't see much fallout from partisans, but the wider audience- should Topp succeed- expect to hear "at some point" TO the point of nausea in the future.

15 comments:

Sean Cummings said...

What Topp needs is to appeal to his base if he wants to win the leadership of the NDP. That's how I read his statement.

Steve V said...

If you read the post, I'm not saying there is a downside with the base, but I guarantee this little quote is in a war room under "future use" file.

Robert McClelland said...

It doesn't matter what Topp says because the Conservatives will always find something to use against him. Even if Topp did nothing more than repeat Harper's every utterance they'd still find something. What matters is how the party defends their leader against the attacks. On that score, the NDP will not make the same mistake the Liberals made.

Steve V said...

True in one sense, and Topps isn't necessarily wrong, but raising the sales tax seems as toxic a political position as anything. I'm long since passed giving the electorate credit beyond soundbite politics. Proposing to raise the sales tax is death politically, you're fine for the leadership obviously, but in a wider sense, it reinforces the big tax party albatross. Just does, pom pom waving partisan poo pooing aside.

A Eliz. said...

oThe Liberals could not much defend their leaders, because of money, nothing else.That's what it takes and the Conservatives have more than all put together.

Jeff Jedras said...

Future attack ad fodder, sure, but is he right or wrong on the policy? And isn't there something to be said for taking the right policy position, regardless of the politics?

(For the answer to that last one, I suppose, you can look at recent LPC electoral results...)

Steve V said...

And isn't there something to be said for taking the right policy position, regardless of the politics?

Yes, and look at us now ;)

sharonapple88 said...

Expect the distortions to end up on youtube.

On the whole issue of increasing a sales tax... weird stand to take considering that the NDP tends to pair the word regressive whenever they talk about them.

sharonapple88 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DL said...

"Proposing to raise the sales tax is death politically..."

Your man McGuinty brought in the HST and still manged to get re-elected (sort of) - so clearly it is possible to stand for higher sales taxes and still win an election.

Steve V said...

He didn't run on the plank, but thanks hack.

sharonapple88 said...

Your man McGuinty brought in the HST and still manged to get re-elected (sort of) - so clearly it is possible to stand for higher sales taxes and still win an election.

It probably helped that neither of the two opposition parties campaigned on taking it down. Mainly because the thing was designed to be revenue neutral. HST was paired with income tax cuts.

DL, thought you might enjoy this -- here's an article from rabble on the the NDP's HST campaigns and why they may be wrong.

DL said...

Its funny how the BC and Ontario government's CLAIM the HST is "revenue neutral" but then when people want to get rid of the HST and go back to the old PST/GST system, they get scolded for how it will deprive of the government of all this revenue.

If its revenue neutral - how can it cost the government anything to get rid of it?

Steve V said...

Not near as funny as how hacks like you can never reconcile Darrel Dexter HIKING HST to HIGHEST in Canada. Such a joke, blah, blah, blah.

sharonapple88 said...

Its funny how the BC and Ontario government's CLAIM the HST is "revenue neutral" but then when people want to get rid of the HST and go back to the old PST/GST system, they get scolded for how it will deprive of the government of all this revenue.

Because they cut taxes in other areas and installed programs to balance the HST out. And even the NDP's own studies showed the poor in Ontario are better off because of the structure of these transfers. To reinstate the HST in Ontario means rolling back these tax cuts and cutting programs, or else there will be a big hole in the Ontario coffers.