The Harper Media Shitskrieg Rolls On…
I suppose there’s tremendous benefit for Stephen Harper in being able to peddle his flim-flammery on American cable TV where his outright falsehoods about the economy will go completely unchallenged by gullible interviewers that are not only sympathetically disposed to his pseudoconservative ideology, but entirely uninformed as to how counterfactual and ludicrous his claims are.
“As a Conservative, I oppose raising taxes at the best of times, but we have not got the structural budgetary deficit that exists in the United States, that obviously limits the administration’s options,” Harper told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday this morning. He then went on to claim that Canada’s strong fiscal position heading into the recession — which as recently as last October, he denied even existed — means that his government can better afford to incur substantial “short-term” deficits and — unbeknown to most Canadians, I’m quite sure — that he has “solid plans” to reverse those deficits within a few years.
The man is clearly in denial… or delusional; quite possibly both. The fact of the matter is that even prior to his hastily contrived “Economic Action Plan,” the Harper government was already running up an estimated $13 billion deficit. Despite all of their talk of limited government and fiscal restraint, spending has actually been completely out of control under the Conservatives for the last couple of years, to the point where previous “tax and spend” Liberal governments now look like fiscal hawks by comparison. Compounding the problem, Harper cut the GST — a move universally condemned by every economist (but one) — at the cost of $12 billion per annum to the treasury. Furthermore, the government wantonly pissed away the $3 billion “rainy day” contingency fund with its reckless pre-election spending binge under the guise of “regional development” (cough) and other such worthy initiatives.
And yet, before his “illegal” bid to win a majority government, Harper vowed Canadians there would be no deficits, and denied unequivocally there was a recession. When the opposition parties demanded a round table meeting with financial experts to address this situation early in October 2008, he dismissed such a notion as them simply “panicking.” Harper claimed that if there was a recession it would have happened already and even suggested that it would be a good time to invest in the stock market (a disastrous bit of advice for anyone foolish enough to have followed it). In fact, as we would later learn, the recession was already happening, but Harper’s finance team had been hiding that unsettling information until after the election. Since then, it’s been admitted by Harper and Flaherty that there would be the possibility of a “technical recession” — a prediction that quickly spiraled into a “deep recession” with parallels to the Great Depression even being drawn by the prime minister in one of his more alarmist mood swings.
Now erratically lurching in the opposite direction, Harper is claiming that there’s no structural deficit, even though there’s a firm consensus amongst economists that this is simply not true, stating categorically that there will be no new taxes (read my lips) to pay for this shambolic fiscal mess he’s created, and repeating his sanguine yet hollow boast that Canada will be the first advanced economy to recover from the global crisis. “We were pulled into it last, and my belief is that we will pull out of it first,” he said. Well, aside from the fact that it contradicts Harper’s own statement that there would be no recovery in Canada until the U.S. economy has stabilized, there is absolutely no rational basis or historical precedent for this faith-based “belief” whatsoever. How fitting that it was made on a Sunday… and on Fox News no less.