Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A terrible TV night for Campbell

That was a dismal effort on TV by Premier Gordon Campbell. Especially for an address that was crucial to rebuilding Liberal support and slowing the recall movement.
Campbell announced a surprise big income tax cut - 15 per cent on the first $72,000 of income - effective Jan. 1. Someone earning $50,000 a year will save about $7 a week.
The tax cut will knock about $600 million off government revenues.
Two points are relevant about that number.
First, it’s less than one-third of the $1.9 billion in additional taxes imposed on individuals and families by the new HST.
And second, it comes as the government is running deficits and cutting services because revenues are down. People with developmental disabilities are being forced out of group homes they have lived in for years. Seniors are waiting for health care. Schools are closing.
It hardly seems time for a tax cut.
Campbell announced a couple of education initiatives. The government will continue establishing StrongStart early learning centres. They help families prepare infants and young children for school.
It will begin assessing every child entering school for learning issues that can be addressed.
And Campbell made a goofy commitment. Within five years, he guaranteed, every Grade 4 student will meet expectations for reading, writing and math skills. Today, about 20 per cent of students fall short.
That’s a laudable goal. But it’s a ridiculous, empty political promise.
The children who will be in Grade 4 five years from now are about to enter kindergarten. Almost one-third of them, according to the province’s statistics, aren’t ready to succeed. About 20 per cent have spent their childhood in poverty.
Some 40 per cent of aboriginal children aren’t meeting basic skills expectations in Grade 4. How is that to be entirely changed in five years.
It would be wonderful, if Campbell had a plan to deliver on this promise.
But the education budget is set to rise 1.5 per cent next year and is effectively frozen the following year. With no money, how are schools going to improve the skills of thousands of children, many facing big challenges?
A tax cut and empty education promises. Not inspirational.
The largest block of time - and the first part of the speech - was devoted to defending the HST.
But there was nothing new. The Liberals had opposed harmonizing the provincial sales tax with the GST because of fears the freedom to set tax policy would be limited, Campbell said.
Then Ontario negotiated a deal with more flexibility and the federal government offered $1.6 billion if B.C. signed on.
And, said Campbell, the federal government demanded an instant commitment or B.C. would have to wait two years. (No one in the federal government has confirmed that ultimatum.)
“Should we have consulted more - I sure would have liked to,” Campbell said.
But he felt comfortable signing a deal that permanently shifted $1.9 billion in taxes from business to families and individuals without talking to MLAs or the public or doing financial analysis of the impact.
What’s extraordinary is that Campbell, again, didn’t take the chance to say he was sorry. Sorry that he had put Liberal MLAs in a tough spot. Sorry that so many people felt abused by the government.
Instead he suggested the problem was that British Columbians are just too dim.
Campbell said he talked to a businessman who had some trucks as part of the operation. He was “really upset” because the HST added seven per cent to the cost of his haircut
“But I pointed to the truck in his lot and I said ‘You see that truck over there?’‟
“And he says, ‘Yep’ and I said, “you‟re saving about $5,000 on that truck.‟
“And he said, “I never thought of that.‟
That’s Campbell’s world. Any day, British Columbians will slap themselves on the forehead and say, “Yep, I never thought of that.”
Footnote: It’s hard to say why taxpayers should pay for this TV address. Campbell’s first televised speech to the province as premier, back in 2002, was paid for by the Liberal party. There was nothing in this message that could not have been delivered by press release Or, in the case of the tax cut, in the legislature.


Anonymous said...

Interesting that NDPaul sees a 15% personal tax cut as being a bad thing, just like Carole James does. Once again partisan Paul wastes no time supporting the NDP agenda.

Anonymous said...

I visit daily and tend to agree with most or your observations. Sometimes I find you a little forgiving to the actions of our ruling party, but this article hits the nail on the head. It is very subtle without being cutting (you did not tear him a new one!!). You article exposes the reality of a very distressed man of power that sees it all falling apart.

Crankypants said...

Anon 10:44, give your head a shake. How can a government that is running a deficit enact income tax cuts without increasing said deficit or slashing funding for programmes elsewhere? Answer-they can't. That is the point Carole James was trying to make.

With regard to the speech in general, if this doesn't spur the BC Liberal caucus to start a dump Gordo campaign then they should all seek medical advice to see if they still have a pulse.

The only person that performed worse tonight on the telly was Vladimir Guerrero in game one of the World Series.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that this editorial cartoon - complete with references to Maui and Campbell's infidelity - was allowed on the front web page of the Province, let alone Smythe calling the speech "bull scat" in print headlines. Campbell - welcome to Glen Clark's world.

DPL said...

sue glad I didn't bother to listen to King Gordo do his spiel. Does any one actually believe the stuff he talks about? Most of us never even get close to 70 thousand a year but Gordo made darn sure that he beats that by twice

Anonymous said...

This article from Burnaby still holds as an excellent explanation as to there not being any extra funds
If you owe $10,000 and discover the debt is only $7,500, it doesn't mean you now have $2,500 extra money to spend -- only that your debt is less. Campbell's tax cut is a stupid disaster, our province will suffer even more. I am at the point of marching on the legislature.

Ed Seedhouse said...

The tax cut was introduced by Campbell in a misleading way. The implication was that it's the folks under 72,000 a year that will get the break. Even Check Six fell for this on the eleven o'clock news.

In fact the tax cut is for the first 72,000 of everybody's income, including the million dollar a year folks. In fact fifty percent of the cut will go to the top twenty percent of taxpayers according to David Schreck.

This is documented on David Schreck's site at

I think this is just another Campbel fib.

Anonymous said...

In 2001 Campbell announced an across the board 25% tax cut for all British Columbians - he did not consult his caucus first. The tax cut recklessness lead directly to the phony 'structural deficit' that Campbell used to leverage the illegal shredding of collective agreements across the province - a created crisis.

Now we are to believe that a new 15% tax cut costing almost $600 million a year will not result in more cut services? or a rising provincial debt?


PW: Alex Tsakumis blogged that there was a fair bit of discord within the BC Liberal caucus over the Basi/Virk plea deal - do you have any sources that could confirm/deny AGT's story?

Anonymous said...

It’s hard to say why taxpayers should pay for this TV address.

Probably because those 'trust-us-with-the-economy' BC Liberals are millions of dollars in debt and can't afford the media fees... so why not stick it to the taxpayer - who are they going to complain to?

Anonymous said...

this business guy that slapped his head and said i didn't know that....

Where is this approximate $5000 going to come from?

He's already paid it.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. Increasing taxes is a horrible thing. Decreasing taxes is a horrible thing. And you wonder why politicians lie.

Norm Farrell said...

Good review by Paul.

Believability remains a problem though because the Liberals' statements are often wrong, deliberately wrong.

Federal Finance Minister Flaherty has already contradicted Campbell's version of HST implementation. Flaherty says it was wholly driven by British Columbia.

Let us remember that cutting the progressive income taxes means greater reliance on borrowing, regressive user fees and excessive electricity and auto insurance rates. I ask at Northern Insights, "What services shall we eliminate to fund the income tax cut>"

Ian Reid tells The Real Story by quoting previous Liberal statements, including ones in the Legislature, from Hansard. When the Liberal story keeps changing, we know there is desperation to find one that works.

RossK said...

For those that want more than meaningless anti-tax-cut baiting ad hominems like the one thrown out by the Anon-O-Mouse at the top of the thread, a real dollar analysis of two families at different ends of the salary specttrum can be found here.


Pat said...

Mr Campbell is just like an alcoholic. As everyone knows, an alcoholic has to admit that he has a problem before he can start to correct or cure that problem. Mr Campbell does not accept that people don't like or trust him. Therefore, he can't correct the problem.

But once (make that IF - a BIG IF) Mr Campbell accepts that he has these problems, he still will not do anything about them because he and his friends feel that there is still some blood left to be squeezed out of this stone called British Columbia.

Once he gets to that point, I would suggest that we should REALLY start to worry. He knows that nothing can happen to him no matter what he does, and I feel that he will be a very mean, vengeful person (like an alcoholic on a ‘denial’ bender.)

Anonymous said...

you don't have to be a New Democrat to support Carole James on this one.
We have a $2 billion deficit and will have to borrow more to fund this break.

50% of it goes to the top 20%, who don't need it.

There are better uses of the money right now. We're cutting schools, health care is underfunded, and we can't even find money for an important project like Evergreen.

Plus we all know the only rationale, economic or social, is to save Campbell's butt.

Yes, James is right

Anonymous said...

A message to 10:44 pm. You need to understand that there are left leaning perspectives just as there are right wing points of view.

If you do not appreciate the views from those in the left do not come to a left leaning blog like this one and save your diatribe for the Fraser Institute.

Anonymous said...

I've got to agree with "Crankypants" You can't run a deficit and cut taxes without gutting other programs. Like medical coverage. Charging someone that is recovering from surgery, or someone that is spending their last days on earth $29.40 per day???!!! [how many will loose their homes over this or be forced out apartments?] The sooner we recall the whole bunch in Victoria the better.