Musings —02.23.2016 09:15 AM—
Called upon to defend a platform promise he almost certainly did not write. Excoriated by articulate strangers. Welcome to politics, Bay Street guy, etc. etc.
Anyway, it all raises a question: does it matter? Do Joe and Jane Frontporch – standing at a bus stop, hunched against the cold, contemplating how non-existent their RRSP contribution will be (again) this year, reflecting on that Florida March Break holiday that will never happen (again) – really care about a $50 billion deficit? Does it matter, to them?
I don’t know the answer, but that (naturally) doesn’t stop experts from expertly dissecting the issue. To me, it comes down to this: will we be European about a massive deficit, and a ballooning debt? Or will we be Americans?
“Concerns over the debt has become a troubling issue on both sides of the Atlantic. However, the politics surrounding it differs in the U.S. A median 81% of the publics in European countries regard the size of the national debt as a major threat to economic well-being; 71% of Americans share that view.
But the unease over the national debt is far more likely to be a partisan issue in the U.S. than it is in Europe. Europeans, whatever their political leanings, tend to see indebtedness the same way. The left-right divide in concern is five percentage points in Germany, four in France, and three in Britain. It is 20 points in the United States, with only 59% of liberals ranking debt as a major threat to the economy compared with 79% of conservatives.
While there is a clear and broad consensus in the U.S. about the importance of dealing with debt and deficit, that is where the clarity and consensus stops – undermined by the disconnect between the public’s stated desire for a smaller government delivering fewer services, and its resistance to spending cuts and, in other cases, tax increases.
So, where do you stand, Joe and Jane Frontporch? Are you a crypto-American, and think the deficit/debt will sink Trudeau et al. in 2019? Or are you a closeted European, and shrug?