There has and is much talk about various tests that can be used to measure how fair the budget is. Every possible test that has been provided from a left/progressive focus (most right wingers define fair when the businesses and rich get more benefits – yes, the rich have many state benefits) when applied to the measures announced in today’s budget show how unfair the proposals are.
The whole “its Labour’s cuts” is getting rather tedious. The LibDems are even trying to scapegoat David Milliband’s ‘failure’ to voice his support for a LibLab coalition deal during the talks, despite the fact Milliband wasn’t involved in the talks and that Labour rightly couldn’t accept the LibDems changed position on the ‘need’ for deep and faster cuts.
Specifically considering the budget, the public sector has been scapegoated. Welfare budget will see 11bn cut from it, considering that there are to be about 60,000 jobs lost over the course of the parliament this will only further the inequality in society (I wrote about the need for an increase in benefits yesterday). Public sector pay has been frozen, which will equate to a cut when considering inflation will likely rise in the upcoming future . There will be 77% public spending cuts. There will also be a report into how to ‘improve’ the private sector in areas of country where it is not ‘strong enough’. Nothing about this is fair. It is a clear attack on the most vulnerable, with little consideration of the need for taxes such as land tax, higher (than proposed) CGT and a Tobin tax that would have seen those most able paying the most.
There is a clear ideological desire to cut. The LibDems defense of the budget has been rather sickening to say the least. Vince Cable once seen as a social democrat, is becoming one of the most prolific Tory supporters in the LibDems. As Dianne Abbott expressed earlier:
“The Lib Dems… bottled it… The only thing they got out of it is cheaper cider.”
There is a clear attack on local government too – partly because of the price paid for the so called ‘Big Society’. The FT report on how the local government have been cutting (preparing) back non legal required services before the budget, but that with the future cuts to their budgets they will have to cut back legal requirement services too. This will not be helped by the proposed council tax freeze, something that has been said to be progressive. If you freeze, whilst also demanding the councils to cut their budgets, this is only going to lead to an even greater undermining of key public services. Another ‘progressive’ measure that has been slammed is the corporation tax – considering that there are estimates that the large companies already a lot of the time only pay around 20% tax – the reduction will see large companies (such as banks) paying less on tax than many people who simply can’t afford the rates (and increased rates – e.g. VAT).
Nothing about this budget is progressive. Their distributional analysis is screwed, and it is exactly like Thatcher’s budgets: attack on public sector, the vulnerable and an increase in inequality and unemployment – all risking a double dip recession.