Kelly McParland: Liberals’ distorted sense of fiscal discipline would be funny, if it weren’t so serious

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The spending Liberals have normalized the debt so much that we are now supposed to be happy when they keep the deficit at $ 327 billion

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Reporting on Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s economic update, Bloomberg included this information: “With no new spending the government is forecasting a near-balanced budget by 2026.” It actually made me laugh. I’m sure whoever wrote it didn’t mean to be funny, but I thought, “Sure, and if all the other teams leave the NHL, the Leafs will win the Stanley Cup.

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Could Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals go five years without new spending promises? If they arrive until Monday, it would be a surprise. I have as much of a chance to be elected Queen of Sweden as this government has to get rid of its addiction to multi-billion dollar spending.

Any expert will tell you that it is impossible to force someone else to break an addiction; they have to make this decision for themselves, and there is no sign that the prime minister or his finance minister is fed up with their arrogance. The Liberals’ promises to turn on the check-writing machine are so regular and shameless that barely a billion or two is barely noticed. Freeland could advertise $ 500,000 for a Justin Trudeau Memorial Walkway on Tofino Beach, BC, and people would say, “Half a billion is that? They must be getting nervous.

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The Trudeau government’s success in numbing the public to extravagant spending is one of the most notable achievements of the Prime Minister’s six-year term. Just as former US President Donald Trump succeeded in conditioning people to ethical irregularities through the sheer volume of his daily output, Trudeau’s liberals have lulled the Canadian senses to their influx of borrowed money by regularly piling up new billions. on the old ones.

Trump could insult veterans, laugh at the disabled, be chased by a porn star, lie about the Boy Scouts, or pretend his father was born in Germany (he was born in New York) and no one raised their eyebrows because that the world had become so accustomed to the man speaking words that had nothing to do with truth, good taste, or respectable demeanor that adding one more to the pile hardly seemed interesting.

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Likewise, Trudeau’s Liberals have so blatantly displayed their lack of interest in controlling their spending impulses that Freeland can announce a final deficit of $ 327 billion, down from the expected $ 354 billion, and has still a headline: Liberals see improved finances in Budget Update. Running for office in 2015, Trudeau promised maximum deficits of $ 10 billion, for up to three years, followed by a balanced budget. Now a shortfall of $ 327 billion is supposed to impress us as an improvement.

Several news sources have described the gap between the expected deficit figures and actual borrowing levels as a “financial windfall”, as if a fractional reduction in the amount we held was real money in the bank. If you think you owe a loan shark $ 12 million and find out it’s only $ 900,000, that’s not a bargain, and you’ll probably still have kneecap issues if you don’t pay. Either way, Freeland has already eaten up the whole number, and more, with spending promises she made in last spring’s budget that weren’t factored into her update.

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Of course, the government has an excuse: there has been a pandemic. What was he supposed to do other than flood the land with money to keep people from suffering? It was an opportunity to be seized and the Liberals seized it. Two years later, they seem to have calculated – and rightly so, it seems – that Canadians have given up worrying about the state of the nation’s finances.

When the debt numbers reach trillions of dollars, the average brain loses the ability to grasp how much money it actually represents. It’s like trying to imagine having the income of Jeff Bezos: if your personal finances are such that you notice when the price of milk goes up, how can you grab a fortune so vast that you could build your own rocket and then leave do others ride there for free?

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The Prime Minister has promoted a general disregard for spending limits by bragging about his own lack of concern. He says he doesn’t care about monetary policy and doesn’t see why he should be blamed if prices in Canada are rising at the fastest rate in 18 years.

In a recent parliamentary clash, he mocked the Conservatives for questioning his performance, saying inflation is a global concern and not something Ottawa could cause or deal with on its own. It’s true, but climate change and the COVID pandemic are two global crises on which Canada has limited leverage. Has anyone seen the Prime Minister eliminate them as a result? Why does the country’s economy deserve less conviction?

A real measure of a government is whether its actions retain their impact long after it leaves, and the Trudeau years seem certain to achieve that financially, if not anywhere else. Canada’s plunge into gross national debt has been so severe that it will certainly survive this administration and possibly several successors.

The budget practices of the Trudeau government should not be laughed at, given that it is too critical a concern for too many Canadians. But it would help if there was more evidence that the prime minister and his finance minister also took it seriously.

National post
Twitter.com/kellymcparland

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  1. Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland presents the government's Economic Update to the House of Commons on December 14, 2021.

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  2. Canada's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland takes part in a virtual press conference before tabling the government's economic and budget update in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, December 14, 2021. REUTERS / Blair Gable

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