The Coalition’s Budget Rap – deficit and debt, deficit and debt

Although it might be hard to conjure up an image of Malcolm Turnbull, Joe Hockey and Helen Coonan doing the Coalition’s Budget Rap, it would not be difficult to imagine the words that would flow from their throats:
Deficit and debt,
Deficit and debt,
Deficit and debt as far as you can see
Labor deficit and debt that will leave us all at sea.

Do not expect to hear anything positive from Coalition members unless it is prized painfully from them by persistent journalists.  Chris Uhlmann on ABC radio this morning did well to have Turnbull reluctantly concede that the loss to revenue of over $200 billion over four years resulting from the GFC would necessarily result in a deficit.  Only the most determined interviewers will achieve any such concession.  Gloom, disaster, devastation, irresponsibility, incompetence, profligate, reckless, panic, spin, ‘spendathon’, spending spree, cash splashes, casino economics, Pollyanna, nation-wrecking and other pejorative words and phrases will be Coalition members’ stock in trade.. [more]

Expect them to attribute virtually all the deficit and debt to the Rudd Government’s ‘reckless spending’, and expect them to insist, as Hockey did this morning, that Labor has accumulated a massive intergenerational debt that has done nothing.  Yes, nothing, nothing at all.  They will not let the increased retail sales, the unexpected fall in unemployment last month (admittedly probably temporary), the increase in business confidence, the boom in new housing and the opinion of many businessmen, business lobbies, economists and commentators that the economic stimuli have had a beneficial effect, to deflect them from insisting that the stimuli have done nothing.  Only when confronted with this positive evidence by determined interviewers will they grudgingly concede that there might have been some effect, but hasten to add that it was minimal and a poor return for the money spend.  Nor will they accept that the cash stimuli are still flowing through the economy, will likely do so for some months to come, and will therefore add to the benefit already accrued.

Today, Hockey made the preposterous statement that since the budgeted $22 billion infrastructure package was estimated to support 210,000 jobs, it would cost over $100,000 for each job, as if the money was to be expended solely on wages.  No Joe it’s to be spent building things, a tiny proportion of which will be spent on wages.  So Joe was being disingenuous; he couldn’t be stupid enough to believe that one.

The Coalition is using the Joseph Goebbels principle that a lie, if audacious enough and repeated enough times, will be believed by the masses.

It will be interesting to hear what Turnbull says in his Speech in Reply tomorrow night.  Expect more shameless disingenuousness.  Already Turnbull and Hockey can’t seem to agree on the Coalition’s approach.  So it should be fun.

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Just Me

14/05/2009Hockey's performance on the 7:30 Report was so bad, I couldn't listen to it, and switched off.

Rx

14/05/2009Interesting that a comparison should be drawn between the Liberal Party and the propaganda method of the far-right Nazi Party: tell big lies often enough and eventually people become brainwashed into believing them. The Liberals are Australia's far-right party; perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. The Howard Party's record of expenditure of public money on state propaganda, among the highest per capita in the world, should be a wake-up call to those who might dismiss comparisons.

janice

14/05/2009Ad astra, I've come to the conclusion that the Coalition actually believe there are enough brain deficient voters out in the community who will vote them back into power. Truffles' budget reply this evening will be interesting but somehow I doubt he will be able to disentangle himself from the ridiculous statements he and Jolly Joe have made so far. I watched Wayne Swan's address to the National Press Club yesterday when he took time to explain the when and why the government made the decisions it did in regard to the stimulus packages. The most important bit of Swan's explanation was, I thought, the cash component of the packages yet, although the questions asked by journalists after the address were sensible and non-hostile, not one journalist acknowledged or questioned the 'cash splash' they gleefully report to all and sundry when Truffles and Jolly Joe are in front of the camera. If journalists do understand why the cash stimulus was used (even if they do not believe it had the desired effect) why do they not endeavour to pass this understanding on to the public?

Ad astra reply

14/05/2009Just Me, If you’ve got the stomach to watch Joe Hockey again, go to his website http://www.joehockey.com/ and play his five minute video. Disingenuous is too polite a word to describe its content. It is deliberately deceptive. One example of his deceptiveness, amongst many, is where he says that the interest on the Rudd Government debt will cost every Australian $500 per year, giving the impression that every Australian will have to fork out this sum. Note too that not once in the five minutes does he mention the global financial crisis or the resultant loss of revenue of over $200 billion over the four years of the forward estimates, which we all know is overwhelmingly and unavoidably the reason for the deficit and the debt. As I pointed out in another post [i]The curious case of the man who forgot the GFC[/i], http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2009/05/08/The-curious-case-of-the-man-who-forgot-the-GFC.aspx Turnbull and Hockey talk as if [quote]“the GFC is a vague entity somewhere out there, with inconsequential revenue-loss implications”[/quote]. Here is Hockey doing it again. It clearly is a calculated strategy to hoodwink the public which he must believe is gullible enough to swallow it. If the polls are any guide, the only ones who might do so are the rusted-on Coalition supporters, and I suspect even most of those would see through the deception, although they may applaud it. The voters who really count, the swinging ones, are unlikely to be mislead; to the contrary they would most likely be disgusted by such a fraud. Twice now I’ve heard about the Hockey video on the radio, most recently this morning from Barrie Cassidy on ABC 774 Melbourne radio, and on both occasions the absence of acknowledgement of the GFC and the revenue loss has been highlighted and condemned. So Hockey’s deception is being exposed to public gaze, which will attract the disapproval it deserves. Rx, The Hockey video is a flagrant example of the application of the Goebbels principle. Hockey and the Coalition are banking on it working for them. janice, It will be an interesting night. I suspect that Turnbull will not be able disentangle himself from his ingrained negativity. If he follows the Hockey line his disingenuousness will be starkly exposed for all to see; on the other hand if he finally acknowledges the effect of the GFC on the community, on jobs and on Government revenue he will in effect be repudiating Hockey’s approach. Like you, I wonder about the quality and motivation of many of our journalists. They seem more concerned with grabbing a juicy headline or a clever turn of phrase than stating the position the way it is. I’m getting material together for a post on that very subject.

Ad astra reply

14/05/2009janice, You'll be interested in what [i]Crikey[/i] Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane says today about tonight's Right of Reply speech by Turnbull: [quote]"Malcolm Turnbull needs to give a stirring performance tonight in his Budget Reply. Not particularly for the sake of his leadership, although that could do with some bolstering, but more for the sake of the Opposition as a whole. It won’t be easy. Already the Budget is dropping out of the media cycle, with no particular positives or negatives for the Government. Turnbull will have to compete with rugby league’s penchant for group s-x for attention. "But, if we want to stick with the sporting thing for a moment, this is about converting pressure into points. The Liberals have slowly become a one-issue party economically: it’s been all about debt and deficits for months. There’s no turning back on that and one suspects the highly self-assured Turnbull doesn’t do Damascene conversions very well. "The ALP’s polling momentum seems to have peaked - although that peak has been called half a dozen times since December 2006 - and maybe voters are starting to worry about the sheer size of the numbers being thrown around by the Government. Tonight needs to be about finding a way of crystallizing that concern - even if only in a pithy phrase - but avoiding the Government’s trap of appearing to contribute to the deficit by opposing savings measures. Turnbull also needs to throw off the mantle of Dr No and offer some positives..."[/quote] That sums it up well.

Ad astra reply

14/05/20098.50 pm Thursday Nothing’s changed. Turnbull was negative from beginning to end in his Right of Reply speech with only one positive suggestion – keep the health insurance rebate at a cost to revenue of $1.8 billion (the Coalition will oppose the proposed changes) and in its place add a 12.5% increase in tobacco excise (3 cents/cigarette) to net the same amount. Would you believe he also suggested setting up additional bureaucracies to monitor Government budgetting and expenditure. That of course would cost nothing at all. While he mentioned the GFC three times, he not once mentioned the loss of over $200 billion in revenue over four years, how he would respond to this, or how he would create a better budget. In other words he avoided suggesting any alternative approach. It was a pathetic address, almost identical to his and Joe Hickey’s utterances over the last week. His minders must have informed him that the deficit – debt story is getting traction, so he’s going to pursue this relentlessly hoping he can persuade the public that only he can get the nation out of the mess created by the Rudd Government. Coalition members clapped afterwards. If they really thought this was a great speech, there’s little hope for a Coalition recovery from the dilapidated state it now exhibits. My guess is that many would be disappointed. It was much inferior to Brendan Nelson's Right of Reply speech last year. Turnbull is shallow, deep down.

Ad astra reply

14/05/2009Here's the full text of Turnbull's Right of Reply speech. Very similar to his Press Club address, augmuented with some figures from Joe Hockey's video. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25482933-5013871,00.html

Ad astra

15/05/2009janice, You're right, he could have been addressing a jury prosecuting a case against the 'reckless Rudd Government', although he usually worked for the defence. He spoke well but his words lacked the substance for which people were looking. Michelle Grattan sees him as 'chickening-out' by proposing to oppose only one part of the budget revenue measures. He wouldn't want to fight an election now, so his 'bring it on' talk is just huff and puff. Morgan today was 60/40, but this was a pre-budget poll. [i]Essential Research[/i] on Monday and [i]Newspoll[/i] on Tuesday will be interesting, although Possum shows that there's little correlation between the Federal Budget and subsequent polls. You will be interested in what [i]Crikey's[/i] Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane wrote today; here's the first few paragraphs: [quote][b]Turnbull's reply: ok, if he doesn't want to be PM any time soon[/b] "Malcolm Turnbull’s Budget reply speech was solid, without really providing the sort of cut-through that he needed. There were no compelling ideas or bold initiatives, nor even a circuit-breaking gimmick like Nelson’s petrol excise move. What we got was more of the same - well-presented, but without any particular change in approach. "Turnbull certainly spoke well enough. When Brendan Nelson finished his reply speech last year, he turned and looked at his frontbench like the kid who had just passed a big exam, with a big smile of relief. Not Turnbull, who took in the applause of his troops as his appropriate entitlement, after a strong performance at the Dispatch Box. He ditched the sarcasm, personal mockery and classical imagery of late and settled for serving it up to Labor as the perennial creators of fiscal disasters that the Coalition had to fix up. But like Nelson, he seemed to have trouble filling out his 30 minutes; the final third of Nelson’s speech drifted off into a hazy vision of the Liberals and Australia, and Turnbull had to tread water near the end when he found he’d got through his speech a bit quicker than planned. "As for the content, well, there wasn’t much. Turnbull re-announced his plan for small business tax carrybacks and re-announced proposals to change bankruptcy laws, an idea particularly favoured by Turnbull that remains vulnerable to a Government scare campaign about the impact on non-bank creditors (how will small businesses react to being told a collapsed company that owes them money is being allowed to "reconstruct itself" rather than pay them anything?). And he again spoke about cutting red tape and an online small business portal. He also proposed a rephasing of assistance to employers for apprentices. "'Modest' proposals, Turnbull called them, rightly..."[/quote]

Ebenezer

16/05/2009Turnbull and Hockey could probably launch a credible attack on the debt if, 1: They had any credible options to reduce the debt. 2: If the had any credibility and people could believe a word they say. Cupboards bare on both fronts there. Even if they could mount an attack, Labor have the "WorkChoices" scare campaign of death to counter any thing the lib's could throw at them. Ooh, and Howard, still full of sh*t I see.

Just Me

16/05/2009Thanks for the link, AA, but I don't think I could stomach even more self-indulgence from Joe, free from even the modest scrutiny that most of our brave MSM offers. Turnbull's budget reply might be superficially coherent, but it is basically gutless. Does not have the courage of his convictions (or maybe just can't control and placate the fractious forces with his 'team', e.g. dear old Bronny Bishop). He can hardly accuse the government of not taking the hard decisions, when his side are no better, they failed to put up any serious proposals for hard substantive and constructive budgetary measures, it was all hollow bluster and bravado. Cheap shots from the sidelines are easy, managing the realpolitik of budget decisions out in the actual real-time main game (including very tough economic circumstances) is a lot harder, a whole different game in fact. The coalition must be mad if they think a DD is going to work in their favour in the current situation. Mind you, their prospects are unlikely to improve greatly in the 18 odd months to the next scheduled normal election. Oh, wait, they ARE mad. I am just waiting for one of them to carelessly use the line, "Bring it on". And, of course, the spectre of the dastardly ex-treasurer lurks, apparently perennially, just behind Mr T. He he. While I have no personal sympathy for Master Turnbull, I appreciate the plight he is in. Who in their right mind would want to be trying to herd that bunch of ornery drunken self-centred mules?

Ad astra reply

16/05/2009Ebenezer, Turnbull thinks he’s delivered a credible alternative, whereas most of what he said, albeit with great conviction, has already been said. His ‘plan for recovery’ was the same as given to the National Press Club, and the only new item was his substitution of a tobacco tax for the private health insurance changes. That will create a scrap in the Senate. It will be interesting to see how far he and Rudd are prepared to play the game of brinkmanship over this possible DD trigger. With Costello looking over his shoulder, Howard entering the fray, and Bronwyn Bishop unwilling to support a tobacco tax, Turnbull should be feeling uncomfortable, but maybe his purported massive ego is keeping his balloon inflated. My concern is that his scurrilous campaign to label Rudd and Swan as addicted to deficit and debt may eventually gain some traction. Just Me, You would have been bemused by Turnbull’s declaration on ABC radio that he could make the hard decisions (presumably opposing the changes to private health insurance is one) and that was a sign of [quote]"his character"[/quote]. Clearly he thinks his character tops Rudd’s. I often wonder whether he really believes his own rhetoric, or whether he's just playing cynical political games. If it’s the former, he’s well down the path of self-delusion.

Mike

18/07/2009I have been looking for content like this for a research project I am working. Thanks very much.
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