The National Party spent all last election swallowing dead rats, to the loud applause of its staunchly Labour-Lite supporters who thought this tactic was sheer genius.
Interest-free student loans to bribe university-age voters? Me too, said the geniuses in the National Party strategy machine. KiwiSaver? Me too, they said. Labour’s Emission’s Trading Scam – a deadweight tax directly on producers – me too! Foreign policy? Me too. Welfare for Working families? Me too. No privatisations? Promising not to slashing bureaucrat numbers? Keeping the cap on GP's fees? No bulk funding for schools? Income-related rents for state house tenants? No strike force for the Air Force? Keeping the Families Commission? Spending hundreds of millions on a motorway bribe to Peter Dunne-nothing? Me too, me too, me too was the refrain. There was the faintest whiff of controversy? Oh, go on then, me too.
National supporters swallowed all the dead rats and kept on coming back for more. They went along with it. They talked up the “moderation” and they talked about tax cuts. They kept talking about tax cuts.
But we now know that they lied. There will be no tax cuts.
When it comes to choosing which promise to break, one of the very few promises National made last year that was worth a damn is the one they choose to break. Like a thin man after an all-you-can-eat competition, what was swallowed so eagerly under all the bright lights now has to be paid for. By you.
But you asked for it. You wanted Labour-Lite, and you’ve got it. But now you can remove the word “Lite,” and any claim that this lot are either honest or competent.
You might object that no one could know in the election campaign of October/November last year that things were about to collapse. That Billy Bob and John Boy wouldn’t know how bad things were until Treasury’s frightening forecasts of December last year. This is just bullshit on a stick.
First of all, anybody who could read a newspaper in October last year could see that the crash had already happened. It wasn’t about to happen, it already had (see the graph at right of the Dow Jones index from July 2008, and notice just when exactly it all fell off a cliff). And despite the almost surreal election campaign, when “don’t mention the crash” seemed to be the refrain, anybody who could understand what they were reading back then would have realised right away the implications for the government’s budget and the spending promises being made. If they didn’t know, they were incompetent. If they did know, they were lying about all the promises.
Second, this was a party who – even in the face of the world economic collapse – were promising to borrow to fund tax cuts. This is reprehensible enough in normal times. In the face of the worst economic collapse since the onset of the Great Depression, it was either a promise that those who made it knew they could never deliver, or a promise they were too incompetent to know they could not deliver. They either lied, or just didn’t care enough to tell the truth.
A responsible political party doesn’t promise what it can’t deliver. It would know that it can’t promise tax cuts without corresponding cuts in government spending. John Boy and Billy Bob thought they could fake it. That they could borrow and spend and promise the earth – and somehow never be found out.
But this Thursday it’s crunch time. Caught between the rock of an economic slump that had already happened when they started swallowing dead rats, and the hard place of credit-rating agencies about to mark down a government about to go heavily into debt, the Billy Bob and John Boy are about to kick in the teeth are those very people who’ve been over-taxed for the last umpty-tum years, while keeping the good times going for all the parasites they’ve been paying for.
And people wonder why we call them bastards.
UPDATE 1: Paul Walker points out National have now given us the National Infrastructure Advisory Board to go along with all the other dead rats on the sinking fiscal ship. Aren’t we lucky.
UPDATE 2: And just to show I’m an equal-opportunity despiser, its worth pointing out that the ACT Party will be voting to support the National Party’s broen promise on Thursday – voting for no tax cuts, no real spending cuts, and around a decade of solid deficit spending.
Is that really what you’d describe as “the courage to do what’s right?”