Hyperbole and The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative

Wed, 2008-09-24 13:32Mitchell Anderson
Mitchell Anderson's picture

Hyperbole and The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative

The Liberals released their 76-page platform this week, including the proposed carbon tax, to predictable ridicule from the Conservatives.

Prime Minister Harper ranted against the idea of taxing carbon as “crazy”, “insane”, and something that would “screw everyone across the country” and “wreck” the economy. The Tory leader went on to trash the Liberal plan as “a work of political and economic incompetence”.

Wow Stephen. Calm down.

Besides the fact the carbon taxes have been widely used throughout the world without the sky falling, or that independent economists have reviewed the Liberal plan and found it sound , perhaps now is as good a time as any to step back and ask the simple question: who has a better record of managing the economy, liberals or conservatives?

Lets start with the royalty of conservative movement: Ronald Reagan. Was the Gipper a restrained fiscal conservative? That’s certainly the mythology.

Yet by the end of Reagan's second term the national debt ballooned by more than 15% as a percent of GDP and totaled $2.6 trillion. Between 1980 and 1990, the national deficit had tripled to $220 billion. When he left office, the country owed more to foreigners than it was owed, and the United States moved from being the world's largest international creditor to the world's largest debtor nation.

Then there is George W. Bush, who inherited a $128 billion surplus in 2001 and yet has so far ran up the national debt by a whopping $2.78 trillion  - not including of course the recent bailout of Wall Street on his watch that will cost the taxpayers an additional $700 billion.

The scale of this disaster is only now coming into grim focus and will no doubt hobble the economy of the US for generations into the future. Besides his obvious incompetence, Bush’s contribution to crushing national debt was fueled mainly by tax cuts and military spending.

Here in Canada, Brain Mulroney spent taxpayer’s money like a drunken sailor, racking up a $42 billion deficit in his last year in office. During his tenure the national debt ballooned by $338 billion, an increase of 200%.

Even Margaret Thatcher was appalled, stating “As leader of the Progressive Conservatives I thought [Mulroney] put too much emphasis on the adjective and not enough on the noun.”

The fact is that so-called fiscal conservatives on both sides of the border have a shameful record of managing the economy, and typically tear through taxpayer’s money like bingo winner on a bender.  

Which brings us to Stephen Harper. When he became Prime Minster less than two years ago he inherited a surplus of $12 billion. In that short time, Canada has already fallen into deficit territory.

This ends an eleven-year streak of budget surpluses posted by their predecessors, the Liberal Party, whose fiscal discipline in the 1990’s finally tackled the deficit, delivering budgetary surpluses every year from 1997.

Like Bush and Reagan, Harper undermined previous surpluses primarily through ill-advised tax cuts and ballooning military spending.

Harper’s cuts to the GST reduced income from that tax by 21% and likely cost the federal treasury over $14 billion up till the end of 2007. While Harper is trained as an economist, his colleagues were almost unanimous in calling the GST cuts a dumb idea. “Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid,” was the analysis from Christopher Ragan, a McGill University economist.

Incredibly, the tax cuts brought by Harper have cost more than all federal transfer payments for health and social programs combined. In other words, if Harper had not slashed government revenues, the federal government could have doubled its support for healthcare, post-secondary education, and social assistance.

At the same time, Harper committed Canada to spend an additional $15 billion on the military, which later became $50 billion . Some predict the actual amount may be closer to $100 billion . Who knows? Harper isn’t telling. Incidentally, Canada now has the worst performing economy in the G7.

Ideologues will no doubt dispute the fact that “fiscal conservatives” like Mr. Harper have a serious credibility problem when it comes to managing the economy. These holdouts are either be blind to history, or willfully misrepresenting the facts. Sadly, shrill hyperbole often substitutes for meaningful analysis south of the border.

Keep that in mind when Harper rants against a carbon tax with terms like “crazy”, “insane” or saying it will “screw everybody” or “wreck” the economy.

Canadians are not stupid, and we expect more from our leaders than hyperbolic fear mongering - especially on an issue as important as climate change.

Previous Comments

Back in the spring, when Canada slipped into series of monthly deficits, Finance Minister Flaherty announced that he would deliver a budget update in October. And since the Canadian economy has dipped dramatically after ithe ncomprehensible policies of this merry band of tax-and-spend Conservatives, I’m absolutely certain that we’ll post a deficit for this year. And that’s why Harper called this election, because his one great claim to fame, careful and prudent government, will be shown to be an absolute sham in just a few months.

This is the same government that has spent wildly — to the tune of $20 billion — since June 2, trying to buy Canadian votes. When you add in the many scandals, I think it’s fair to suggest that Harper’s government meets the same high standards of his US bedfellow, Dubya.

“Harper’s government meets the same high standards of his US bedfellow, Dubya” -SMARTLIKESTREETCAR

Not even close. We remain in a surplus position, though just barely. Our housing market is good. Our banks are solid. Employment is strong.

While Dubya is on his way out, our man Harper is warming up for his main act: majority government. Get ready Canada, the best is yet to come!

Gotta wonder what this is all about. Some say this is part of the “starving the beast” strategy. Google that phrase. If I understand it, the strategy is about running up defecits and debt as a way to cripple future governments from social and environmental spending.

That’s possible I suppose. But then again, so is the more straight forward ‘short-sighted corporations at helm’ hypothesis.

Mitchell, you miss the boat again. Canadians are almost certain to put the Conservatives back into power again. How about addressing that?

The real myth in Canada is the one that says Canadians support drastic cuts to C02. Canadians don’t, and it shows at election time.

The fact that 60 - 65 percent of Canadians aren’t voting for Harper means that we’re the ones who are deluded.

Of those 60-65% who vote for the losing parties, only a small minority support radical action on C02 emissions.

So yes, you are deluded if you believe the majority of Canadians support drastic action on C02; we don’t.

Bullshit! A clear majority of Canadians said in the poll mentioned that they would support action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions even if it would lead to a bit of a financial sacrifice.

Why do you keep lying, Paul? You’re just like the McCain-Palin campaign. There’s little truth, but a lot of heat.

What people say in a poll and what they do in the voting booth are two different things Stephen.

Canadians are electing a Conservative government because that’s what Canadians want: no drastic irrational action on C02 reductions.

85% of Canadians reject the NDP and 75% of Canadians reject the Liberals. 90% of Canadians reject the Greens.

It’s also a well known fact that the Liberals signed Canada onto Kyoto and yet miserably failed to meet the targets. Both the Liberals and the Conservatives have a terrible record when it comes to the environment (among many other issues). That’s why I’m voting Green!

Again we hear about how a party wil get in with less than a majority of popular votes.
Its only been like that since confederation.
Go look up how many canadian governments there have ever been with a real majority.

If you don’t like it, push for some better form of voting.

For anyone, voting Green. YES!!!! Please do. Please do.

May has no chance what so ever but every green vote is one less slimy liberal vote.

Go for it.

Actually Gary, the Green Party draws a lot of disgruntled PCs (which I was), young voters who previously didn’t care about the mundane (scandal ridden) Liberals or PCs and didn’t bother voting, and NDP‘ers who have given up on JL or old union ideals.

OK….. This is important.
Its a long read but understandable to everyone.

Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions?1
Richard S. Lindzen

Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
September 19, 2008


For example, the primary spokesman for the American Meteorological Society in Washington is Anthony Socci who is neither an elected official of the AMS nor a contributor to climate science. Rather, he is a former staffer for Al Gore.

Well, how about Phil Cooney, appointed by Bush and Cheney to oversee the National Assessment on climate change. Cooney was no climate scientist, but an old PR hack for ExxonMobil. Cooney proceeded to alter the statements made by the top American climatologists so the dire warnings about the effects of AGW would be minimized and he inserted uncertainty where there was very little.

Now which case is worse, Gary? If you say Socci, then I’ve got a bridge in Alaska to sell you. (The one to nowhere which Sarah Palin initially welcomed but later denounced only after the majority opinion was against it.)

small point - that “bridge to nowhere” was going to be a bridge to the - airport.

they have ferries going back and forth to the airport. They want a bridge. Seems like a reasonable enough idea.

“The one to nowhere which Sarah Palin initially welcomed but later denounced only after the majority opinion was against it” - STEPHEN BERG

Once elected Governor and having access to more information, Palin changed her mind and withdrew support for the bridge. That’s what intelligent, informed people do.

But as we are witnessing, quite a few lefties are becomed a bit unhinged about Palin. It’s probably due to latent sexism which many liberals still harbor.

well the bridge became a symbol for pork - she went with that. I don’t think dropping the bridge was especially heroic. Politically smart I suppose.

No. The only sexist people are the troglodyte conservatives who hate Hillary Clinton and think that a woman’s job is in the kitchen. No liberal thinks this way.

Also, I noticed nothing coming from the denier trolls in response to my comment on Cooney. Struck a nerve, did I?

LOL. The real sexists are the ones who denied Hillary the opportunity to run for president and who are now livid that another woman wants to be VP.

That’s right, I’m talking about those sexist Democrats.

What is your point?

Corruption is everywhere.
You are just showing some more of the same.

Good point Gary. The loser parties always blame their losses on our “first past the post” voting system (even though we’ve had it for over 130 years!) while real parties, like the Conservatives accept the voting system as it is, adjust their strategy, and win elections.

And I second your recommendation: Vote Green people. Please. Give them your support.

Lizzy May wants us to return to a 1800’s way of life, before we had electricity.

From 1962 to the present:

Total of Conservative Deficits 299,931M Adjusted for inflation 428,128M

Total of Liberal Deficits 282,765M Adjusted for inflation 551,535M

Trudeau increased the deficit 2,230% from 1973-1983

http://www.elections.ca/content.asp?section=gen&document=part4&dir=ces&lang=e&textonly=false http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/econ46c.htm

“independent economists have reviewed the Liberal plan and found it sound”

There is no such thing as an independant economist. They all have political leanings. Mike Duffy the other day had an economist on who trashed the Liberal plan. Harper is an economist. So the appeal to authority evaporated.

If the plan is so great, then answer this question. According to the green shift website a single mother of 2 living in an appartment earning $30K will get some $1,600 back in the plan. She will have no increase in her untilities from the carbon tax as rent control prevents increases above a certain percent. So the question becomes, if this is “revenue neutral” who is paying her $1,600? Someone has to be out that to be revenue neutral. Why are the Liberals touting the winners and not show us who the losers will be?

“Here in Canada, Brain Mulroney spent taxpayer’s money like a drunken sailor, racking up a $42 billion deficit in his last year in office. During his tenure the national debt ballooned by $338 billion, an increase of 200%. ”




Total debt for period 292,185M

Compare to Trudeau:


An increase of 2,230%

“Which brings us to Stephen Harper. When he became Prime Minster less than two years ago he inherited a surplus of $12 billion. In that short time, Canada has already fallen into deficit territory. ”

A government surplus means they are over taxing us. That is bad for the economy. And until the budget actually comes out you all are just speculating.

Oh, and BTW, the editorial board of the Toronto Star endorses going into deficit in bad economic times.

“Incredibly, the tax cuts brought by Harper have cost more than all federal transfer payments for health and social programs combined. In other words, if Harper had not slashed government revenues, the federal government could have doubled its support for healthcare, post-secondary education, and social assistance. ”

If we did not have to pay $35B in interest payments on the national debt each year could have TRIPLED the money spend on healthcare, post-secondary education, and social assistance.

If they tax every penny of our income they could have TRIPLED the money spent on healthcare, post-secondary education, and social assistance.

The question becomes, how much taxation is too much taxation? 50%, 60%, 70%. Until you give us a number your ascertions are meaningless.

Hyperbole and Myth of the Green Movement


This is the sort of thing that gets in the way of most people taking the green movement seriously.

no offence intended but it almost seems that the people who claim to be worried about GW really aren’t worried at all.

Well, the trolls are out in full force, I see.

One thing I find interesting is that while the US economy is tanking, nothing has been done to shift the economy into a more environmentally sustainable one. Bush, Cheney, and the other troglodyte conservatives have said that taking action to protect the environment will hurt the economy. It’s actually quite priceless to see the US economy tanking while nothing has been done to make the US economy more green.

So, maybe a green economy wouldn’t have gotten us all into such a mess in the first place!

maybe so - but we aren’t about to find out.

Under Obama and the dems we’ll have very few real adjustments in a green direction. Anything they come up with will be watered down and delayed to the point of meaninglessness. That just seems to be political reality.

Substantial political moves would only come when they are forced, such as in the event of runaway global warming. At that point it would be too late. no?

(Rick - troll and general trouble maker to all causes green)

“nothing has been done to shift the economy into a more environmentally sustainable one.”

There is no such thing. With a growing population and growing economies there is no such thing as sustainable. All growth eventually out consumes its environment. We are at that now.

And you’re okay with that? We’ll just keep priming the pump till we run out of water? And then what?

All biological systems collapse when they overshoot the carrying capacity. We are no different and no technology will supercede the laws of thermodynamics. Our population grew 12 fold since the industrial revolution, all because of FF. Thus without that same energy input we cannot support 6.3B people, let alone the 9B the UN is predicting. Thus we are looking at a potential 80-90% collapse in human numbers within the next 100 years.

Want an eye opener? Watch this series. Then do a blog bit here on it.


Particilarly Ch 17 - 19 Then you will see that the biggest threat to our civilization is not AGW, but Peak Oil.

Oh, and the Oil Crash movie The Crude Awakening.

There is no doubt that our country is facing economic crisis. But there are some politicians that instead of solving this problem some of them have created another problem. Corruption is the problem of every government.. Today, Federal prosecutors are expected to file the Blagojevich indictment for multiple counts of political corruption.  The former Illinois governor was ousted late last year, amidst an arrest for several felonies and a long history of shady fundraising.  He won’t even be able to get payday loans for a lawyer, because he is technically unemployed.  Hopefully he doesn’t need payday loans to maintain that ridiculous hair, but the head it sits atop is dealing with the Blagojevich indictment.

Willie Soon climate science denial

“The science that Willie Soon does is almost pointless.” - NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, to the New York Times

Recent revelations regarding Smithsonian scientist ...

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