In another liberal surge of empathy, Sun pundit Vaughn Palmer described the “post-HST fiscal triple whammy” faced by “action man” Kevin Falcon.
He described the aggravation of replacing HST with PST, a task that involves major efforts apparently not needed when HST replaced PST. As I recall, the first change did not amount to a hardship worth mentioning at the time.
Untransitioning includes, Palmer says,
“bringing thousands of new businesses up to speed on the complexities of the PST.”
The statement implies that government holds the hands of business people while they learn the regulations, reprogram their cash registers and train staff. Based on my decades in small business, that would be an entirely new approach by government to sales tax administration.
Falcon soon meets in Ottawa with with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty about unwinding the inter-government HST agreement. Unaware of any arguments in favour of moderating repayment, Palmer knows the outcome of negotiations for return of the $1.6 billion transition funding now claimed by the feds. He writes,
“There’s no avoiding the latter obligation.”
Palmer then recounts Falcon’s post-HST fiscal triple whammy:
“A direct loss of revenues, combined with an obstacle to needed economic growth, combined with no demonstrable public appetite for increasing other taxes.”
Well, putting $2.5 billion a year back into the hands of BC consumers is a start to needed economic growth. After all, businesses need customers and customers need cash. Also, scratch the surface and you might find a demonstrable public appetite for returning corporate income tax rates to 2008 levels.
People also may want to reverse the elimination of capital taxes on banks, a move that was supposed to guarantee banking jobs in this province. Re-institution of a tax that generated over $100 million a year seems particularly inviting since bank jobs here decreased after then Finance Minister Carole Taylor relieved bankers of this levy, months before she joined the board of TD Bank Financial Group, Canada’s second largest banking institution.
Commentators in the blog world thought Premier Clark threw Falcon under the bus when she made it clear the Finance Minister led the Government’s failed effort to preserve HST. Palmer avoids that analysis and focuses on the applause,
“Falcon, with his business connections and base on the right side of the party, organized a belated campaign to rescue the HST. Unsuccessful. But Clark, far from faulting the effort, went out of her way to thank him at the news conference following the government defeat in the referendum.
“The premier twice singled out Falcon for praise. Said how much she appreciated his work to defend the tax. Cited, too, his prudent management of provincial finances.”
Consider description of the “belated campaign to rescue the HST.” Yup, this was a battle in which the resourceless government was far behind from the start. They had no idea the tax shift would be unpopular so they were not prepared to defend it.
Against them was a giant tide of citizens with uncounted financial assets and loads of time because many of them were retired or unemployed. Against this thrust of citizen power stood only the federal and provincial governments, academics they hire as consultants, the media, associations of commerce and industry, the Fraser Institute and other ideological foundations and hired trolls. Many of Falcon’s allies had to take time away from selfless building of BC’s economy, struggling against overwhelming odds to maintain the tax that would only save big business $10 billion before the HST agreement between BC and the feds expired.
Seriously, I think Palmer has lost almost all credibility as a political pundit. He has become a political consultant and a partisan for the Liberal Government. He may be doing the bidding of his Postmedia employers but he seems willing and comfortable with the role. Clearly, Palmer is unwilling to look at Kevin Falcon’s deceits and distortions as discussed in my article, Falcon: Revenue neutral HST an “urban legend.”
Examine recent Sun columns, there is hardly a serious critique of BC Liberals among them.
I don’t always agree with Gary Mason at the Globe and Mail and I often fault the newspaper’s editorial positions. But, give credit to the G&M, Mason and other writers for allowing a relatively free forum for discussion after articles are posted online. Mason’s columns regularly have numerous comments attached, many critical. One of his recent articles had almost 800 reader comments. In contrast, Vaughn Palmer’s column allows no contributions from readers and he appears to have dropped his blogging effort at the Sun as well.