Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Budget reaction 08 (try and stay awake)

I haven't had time to study the latest stand-pat federal budget, but of course I have a few opinions on it anyway.

I’m glad Jim Flaherty said "No" to so many special-interest groups who believe the state has an obligation to bail them out of the problems created by their own mismanagement.

But I think it’s a shame the Conservatives are dumping environmental programs, such as the incentives for buying greener cars. The environment is in crisis and this issue is not going away. Creating more sustainable attitudes and lifestyles should become a national brand for Canada, and the Tories’ neo-con ideology is setting us back. (I believe this short-sightedness will come back to haunt them next election.)

Um, back to the budget. By tomorrow we'll have forgotten it, so while it’s fresh, here’s a summary of the budget reaction from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Canada’s top small-business lobbyist.

* The CFIB praised the creation of a new crown corporation, the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board, to manage the EI account. “This is a good first step in bringing much needed change to Canada’s EI system, and CFIB will work to ensure that the needs of Canada’s smaller employers are addressed within this new system.”

* Good on Jim Flaherty for paying down the national debt by $10.2 billion, bringing total debt reduction in the past three years to $37 billion. “CFIB will continue to pressure government to dedicate at least 50% of any future surplus to debt reduction.”

(Note from Rick: As a reporter for the Financial Times, I covered most of the federal budgets in the 1980s. I remember $30-billion annual deficits. It was a criminal attack on the future - on all of our futures, and our children's - and it will still take decades to pay off. But the progress we've made on debt reduction is considerable, and future generations will thank us.)

* CFIB was disappointed not to see any commitment or plan to reduce personal income taxes.

* The CFIB identified several smaller measures related to small business. They welcomed some important changes to the automobile-expense deduction. “Changes to the administration of the SRED, as well as changes to late remittance for source deductions will also benefit many smaller companies."

You can read the CFIB’s full reaction here.

Click here for the CFIB’s pre-budget submission: what it wanted from the budget, and what we didn't get.

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