Thursday, March 26, 2009

Surprise!

At first blush, I'm actually okay with this Ontario budget.
Unbelieveable, I know. I've never liked Dalton McGuinty. All politicians break promises, but McGuinty almost seemed as if he was making promises explicitly so he could break them later. He promised three times to close coal-fired generating plants that are still open; he promised to keep a cap on electricity rates, then removed it; he promised funding for autistic kids that never materialized. Most infamously, he promised, mid-campaign, "I won't raise your taxes, but I won't cut them either"...that almost had me voting for him. Of course, the instant he won the election, he whacked Ontario with a gigantic health care tax "premium". 
Put quite bluntly, I don't trust a single word he says.

But this budget, now....this isn't near as bad as I thought it might be.
Oh, the deficit's a bitch, but you know what? Everybody's deficit's a bitch right now...we might as well join the party. There's a ton of much-needed infrastructure spending in here. That's the thing these deep-fried Friedman types don't understand: recession or no recession, there's approximately seven and a half shitloads of things the government needs to be spending money on, above and below ground. 
And tax harmonization?
The Sun, predictably, is outraged. "Yesterday", writes Christina Blizzard, "the guys who got elected saying they 'wouldn't add one cent' to your taxes kept their promise...they won't raise taxes by one cent. They're raising them by billions of dollars."
The Globe and Mail has a much more positive spin. "Research in provinces that have adopted a single tax has shown that savings passed down by businesses to consumers ultimately ensure that it does not add to their net costs." (I have to admit I'd like the opportunity to peruse this "research".)

I haven't made up my mind on harmonization. Part of it's ignorance: I don't understand how this saves businesses money as they claim it will. Take my grocery store, for instance. We'll still be selling things such as feminine hygiene products that will be GST only. (Aside: who was the man who decided those had to be taxed in the first place? You just know it had to be a man.) So we're still going to have to maintain two sets of books. Business groups say the machines they buy, currently subject to PST, will be untaxed once the HST kicks in. Well, bully for them. Their hydro bills will be 8% bigger, though. So will fuel costs on all their deliveries. I can't help but wonder how that won't trickle down, adding to the price of products which will already be eight percent more expensive...*sigh* I just don't get it.
I do like that McGuinty is at least cutting income taxes as a partial offset. In my world, there'd be no such thing as income taxes. I don't believe you should be punished for earning money...I do believe certain sorts of consumption should be punished, or at least discouraged.
And I like that this doesn't take effect until July 1, 2010. That's actually brilliant on Duncan's part. Many economists suggest the worst of this recession should be over by then. (I don't agree with them, but there are enough on that side of the ledger to at least give me pause.) Anyway, isn't the threat of everything suddenly costing 8% more in a year something of an indirect stimulus? If you're contemplating a big purchase such as a car or a house or even a new computer, won't you be more likely to buy it sometime in the next twelve months if at all possible?
 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Face it

You are a conservative liberal.

Ken Breadner said...

Nothing to face there--I've been saying I'm a conservative (otherwise known as a *progressive* conservative) for years.