Thursday, May 24, 2012

Shuffling the deckchairs

Bill English is presenting the Budget at the moment. The first impression? He's shuffling the deckchairs. Money is being shifted from one program to another, usually at the expense of the poor, but the fundamental problems facing the government - the tax cuts for the rich which have crashed the books - remain unaddressed.

Apparently, there will be a surplus in 2015. In reality, exports just dropped by 17% today. So if you believe their forecast of surplus nirvana, I have a round building in Wellington to sell you.

As noted above, the victims of the government's changes are largely the poor. The low-income tax credit will be cut. Prescription charges will be increased. ECE subsidies will be cut (on the Treasury-logic that doing so will somehow increase participation). The latter in particular is hugely shortsighted, in that ECE is one of the most beneficial investments a government can make. But National regards it as babysitting, so it gets cut to allow the rich to keep their tax cuts.

Students, of course, get whacked with a big stick. Allowance threshold freezes, student loan repayment increases, no allowances for postgrad (which also means teacher training). The message is clear: tertiary education isn't worth it. Or, if it is, its because you're fleeing to Australia and leaving your debt behind you.

This is a budget without hope and without solutions. And if its National's vision for New Zealand, then its time we got rid of them.