Here’s what I said back on April 1, based on what anyone with a brain could see back in October when those promises were made:
Significant tax cuts were a key election-winning promise for National, remember?
And now they want to recant on that promise, just as I told you they would back in October. “Economic conditions” and a projected "decade of deficits” make it impossible, say Prime Minister John Key and his Finance Minister Bill English, to deliver the latter two of the three rounds of tax cuts they promised so loudly back in November.
Excuse me boys, but isn’t it the case that these tax cuts, promised less than five months ago, were a key reason that the public gave you the jobs you have now? Shouldn’t you be doing now what’s necessary to do what you promised then?
Isn’t it just a bit rich to say that “economic conditions” now make it impossible to deliver what you promised back before the election, because it was obvious back then to anyone with eyes to see that economic conditions were going to make it necessary to cut the government’s coat according to the cloth it could afford.
To say that it wasn’t obvious to you back then is not an excuse not to deliver now, it’s a reason for your supporters to realise that you're either not competent enough to do your jobs -- since the whole world and his grandson could see back in October what was coming -- or else you’re a pair of liars.
No other alternative explanation is possible.
There is a strong case to be made for incompetence, though this jury is still out. For example, this fiscal fool English cites Treasury's projected "decade of government deficits" as a reason not to cut taxes. But you knew about these deficits back in October, Bill, and you committed then to stay on course with your tax cuts. And you completely fail to realise, Bill, that deficits are not inevitable – they depend, in the final analysis, on the commitment and integrity of the finance minister. Deficits for a whole decade simply mean that your government plans to spend more than it takes in for a whole decade.
Is that sensible? Sound? Competent?
To say that the projected “decade of deficits” makes it "impossible to deliver tax cuts" is to say that you have no idea how to bring your own spending under control at a time when spending restraint has never been more necessary – at a time when it’s clear enough to anyone who can add that the way to remove those deficits, and to do what you promised, is to cut the level of your spending to fit the new depressed realities.
Why can’t you do that, Mr English?
In fact, the economic conditions we now face make tax cuts not less urgent but more urgent. They make it even more essential that you keep your damn promises, not less.
They make it even more necessary that everyone look to their knitting and cut out waste. They make it even more urgent that businesses are given significant tax cuts, to help them lower their costs and survive the recession. That wage earners are given significant tax cuts to help them pay their bills and ride out the recession. That ministers do everything they can to make permanent and slashing cuts to their budgets, and senior ministers look to cut whole areas of wasteful spending of their books. Family's Commission and Ministry of Hairy Women's Affairs, anyone?
Frankly, it’s not enough to say that “economic conditions” now make it impossible to deliver a key election commitment, Mr English. Either admit you’re incompetent, or that you’re a liar, or get you head around the cuts you need to make and then make them, and deliver what it was you promised.
Either do that, Mr English, or get the hell out of the way for someone who can.
NB: Read what I said October last year to see that despite an election campaign in denial about the real state of the economy, it didn’t take a genius to see what was afoot. Key and English were either lying back then about their promises, or they're incompetent now to fulfil them. There are no other alternatives, are there.