Now that it is clear that the Trudeau Liberals will be borrowing to pay for their tax cut, I have gone to the trouble of gathering some quotes from prominent Liberals accusing and criticizing Ontario premier Mike Harris for doing the same.
One of the differences between Liberals and Conservatives (I hope) is that Conservatives think taxpayers' money is their own, so the idea that governments have to borrow to let taxpayers keep more of their own money is absurd. But Liberals start from the premise that the government's money is the government's no matter what.
As it turned out, Harris eliminated the $11.6-billion deficit he inherited in four years. To be fair, Prime Minister Two Nannies has pledged to get to a balanced budget in four years. So we'll see how that works out. In the meantime, enjoy:
Cutting income taxes before retiring the provincial deficit, he added, is irresponsible.
"They've put my daughter $23.2 billion in debt," [Vaughan-King-Aurora Liberal candidate Tony] Genco said.
"I don't know if Al Palladini runs his business like that. I don't know any business that would borrow to pay shareholders a dividend."
--Toronto Star, June 1, 1999
On the trust issue, Mr. McGuinty argues that Mr. Harris was less than honest about his intentions in the 1995 campaign. "Did he say that he would close our hospitals? Did he say that he would cut and close our schools? Did he say that he would borrow for a tax cut? ... In fact, he did all those things," the Liberal leader said during the debate.
--Ottawa Citizen, May 22, 1999
After focusing on health care for the first week of the campaign, Mr. McGuinty turned the spotlight on what he says is the government's irresponsible decision to borrow money to pay for tax cuts, while pulling money out of health care and education.
"Not only does this guy not have the corner on fiscal responsibility, he's not even on the same street," he said at a strip mall in this suburb of Hamilton.
--The Globe and Mail, May 13, 1999
"The Tories have no credibility to attack our plans," [Liberal campaign manager Tim] Murphy told reporters at a news conference called by the Liberals to try to diffuse the attack by the Conservatives on the Liberal financial projections.
"They added $24-billion to the debt. They've borrowed $9.6-billion to fund a tax cut which has caused chaos and crisis in our health-care and education systems. They're going to borrow another $500-million and that's traded off against a $500-million cut in education [spending]," Mr. Murphy said.
--The Globe and Mail, May 10, 1999
For the Liberals, the challenge is to convince voters that there is more to governing than tax cuts, said deputy Liberal leader Gerry Phillips.
"I realize, politically, people perhaps like a tax cut. But I think people now realize they've paid two prices for it. One is, it's cost us a quality health-care system. And the second thing it's cost us is we've got to borrow every penny for that tax cut," he said.
--The Globe and Mail, Apr 30, 1999
Liberal finance critic Gerry Phillips called the platform irresponsible. It doesn't foresee balancing the budget till 2001* and would spend only $2 billion on shrinking the province's $110 billion debt, he noted.
"Here we go again: we are continuing to borrow money for a tax cut."
--Ottawa Citizen, Apr 30, 1999
* The 2000 budget reported that the budget was balanced in 1999-00
In a campaign-style speech, Harris recalled that the Liberals back in 1995 thought his income tax scheme was "wacky."
The Liberals are still opposed to tax cuts, he charges.
"They don't get it that it's your money to begin with, it's not the government's," he said, to several rounds of hearty applause. "They still don't get that tax cuts work. They work for families, they work for jobs, they work for the economy."
McGuinty responded to the attack, saying Harris had to borrow $10 billion to pay for the income tax scheme and then nearly destroyed health care and education by slashing funding.
--Toronto Star, Apr 9, 1999
McGuinty was low-key and to the point in delivering his speech, which was billed as a major plank in his election platform and was intended to convince both supporters and voters that he has what it takes to battle Harris for the premier's office.
"Unlike the current government, we will not borrow to provide tax relief. And we will not run deficits to provide tax relief," he said. McGuinty said the 30 per cent tax cut introduced by the Tories was premature and only served to add to the province's debt and delay balancing the books.
--Toronto Star, Mar 30, 1999
Liberal finance critic MPP Gerry Phillips said what Harris fails to tell taxpayers is that the money for the province's tax cut has been borrowed.
"The tax cut has been at an enormous cost to the debt ... we've had to borrow roughly $10 billion to fund the tax cut. We're paying close to $800 million a year in extra interest just for the tax cut," Phillips said.
--Windsor Star, Nov 27, 1998
Liberal finance critic MPP Gerry Phillips said the government has bribed Ontarians with their own money "when a far smarter thing would have been to balance the books . . . and then look at a tax cut."
Phillips said what people forget is that the government so far has had to borrow about $10 billion to pay for the tax cut at a cost of about $2 billion in interest.
--Windsor Star, June 25, 1998
"The average taxpayer ($32,500 annual income) will get an extra $1.44 more per week, and a person earning $50,000 will get an extra $2.86 a week," after the latest cut takes effect Jan. 1, [Liberal MPP Gerry Phillips] says. Those with much higher incomes will see substantially larger cuts in dollar terms, he said, calling this fiscally irresponsible because "Ontario has to borrow every penny used to fund the tax cut."
--The Globe and Mail, Dec 23, 1997
Mr. McGuinty said he will attack the Conservatives on how they have gone about reducing the provincial budget deficit to $5.6-billion from $11.2-billion. "I think to borrow $12-billion or $15-billion to deliver on a tax-cut promise is not fiscally responsible."
--The Globe and Mail, Dec 22, 1997
"Every penny (of the tax cut) the government is going to have to borrow while it is cutting hospitals, school boards, municipalities and making seniors pay for their drugs,'' Liberal MPP and finance critic Gerry Phillips says.
--Windsor Star, Nov 29, 1996
Liberal Finance critic Gerry Phillips said the government will be forced to cut closer to $10 billion, as the bond rating agency suggested, in order to deliver the tax cut.
"Everybody loves a tax cut but every dollar of that has to be borrowed money," Phillips said.
--The Record, Nov 2, 1995
The Harris government has said that it will have to borrow $15 billion over the next four years to pay for the tax cut. The extra annual interest charges alone will be more than all the money saved in last week's spending cuts.
--Liberal finance critic Gerry Phillips, Ottawa Citizen, July 25, 1995