In addition to the obvious, coming out of Harper's presser today, I picked up on a couple of casual comments he made about the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
Speaking about Canada's economy, the prime minister tersely dismissed Page's gloomy report this week, which said the government had underestimated the impact of the recession on government finances and the economy.
In addition to predicting higher-than-expected job losses, Page also said the Canadian government is now running a "structural deficit" and, therefore, won't automatically go back to budget surpluses when the economy recovers.
So "significant discretionary actions" will be necessary to get Canada's books back in the black, Page said.
But on Friday, Harper ridiculed the suggestion that the government would need to slash spending or boost taxes to balance its budget when the economy recovers.
"We will not start raising taxes and cutting programs. That's a very dumb policy and, to the extent, frankly, that the parliamentary budget officer suggested it, it's a dumb position," he said.
Dumb? What a statesman our PM is. Slagging the OLO and a respected public servant in less than 10 minutes!
Furthermore, Page is hardly the first to suggest that program cuts and/or tax increases might be necessary. But at this point, Harper isn't really going after Page or other economists, (people that actually earned that title), is he?. No, Harper was in bad actor mode, again, going after Ignatieff and pushing what the lame CPC ads suggest.
Harper's solution to the real questions on deficit? Oh, it'll all take care of itself, come out in the wash...you know? The really serious economic statements that people who actually understand the economy guffaw at.
Aside from the PM's boorish comment, it's interesting to note that this is the second time this week that the government has taken a shot at the PBO. Remember that Flaherty had this to say .
"He's taken a more pessimistic outlook than warranted, based on what we are seeing from the IMF and others in terms of the economic recovery taking place in 2010," said Mr. Flaherty, who spoke to reporters via conference call from Brasilia after meeting with Brazil's finance minister and central banker.
It seems pretty clear that the government is dismissing everything this public servant, (that they appointed btw), has to say. All this finger pointing is reminiscent of the Linda Keen incident...except for the 'Liberal appointee' part of course.
Ironically, Harper has been wrong about this recession every single step of the way and has changed his position many times.
Stephen Harper, Oct. 7, 2008. “I know economists will say that we can run a small deficit, but the problem is once you cross that line, as we see in the United States, nothing stops deficits from getting larger and larger and spiralling out of control, and we want to avoid the kind of government, household and trade deficits we see in the United States.”
Jim Flaherty, Jan. 27, 2009. “There will be no long-running or permanent deficit … As the economy recovers, we fully expect to emerge from deficit and return to surplus within five years.”
Stephen Harper, July 10, 2009. “We will allow the deficit to persist if necessary. We will not, in order to meet some timetable, start raising taxes and cutting programs. That’s a very dumb policy … If the recession turns out to be longer than that, for example, or the recovery turns out to be shallower, then that will change the pattern of the recovery from the current deficit.”
h/t - Aaron Wherry
From just a few weeks ago when he said the deficit would be short lived, they were on plan to eliminate it and anyone who suggested otherwise was crazy, to today when he said that he would run a deficit as long as was needed.
Finally, as was noted in a previous post, Harper did have to eat crow and apologise today. Within that apology though were some telling words, imo.
"I attacked Mr. Ignatieff"
Attacked?! That word rolled off his tongue like any other word didn't it? This is the leader of our country, casually commenting on attacking the leader of the opposition on an interantional stage. Not debating, not challenging...attacking. It didn't even occur to him that that word was exposing him for who he was.
In our recent history, I cannot think of a more unsophisticated, cheap and graceless PM. Especially when you consider that those moves are scripted...thought through and editorially choreographed.
We're in a sad place in time.