A very insightful Espiner piece

February 8th, 2008 at 10:51 am by David Farrar

Colin Espiner has a very insightful piece on yesterday’s speech by Cullen.  First he points out the the hype over the tax policy was greater than the substance, which was only two lines:

We will lay out a programme in relation to the next three year term in office and the longer term direction of change beyond that.”

Colin then astutely sense the contradiction between what Dr Cullen says, and what he is being forced to do:

I do wonder about his commitment to tax cuts, however. In a strangely schizophrenic speech at times, Cullen also says this: “Most people here today know that I am not convinced by the tax cut evangelism of my political opponents. They may talk up the transformative power of tax cuts, but underneath that spin what you will really find is a long-term goal of undermining the role of government in society and winning elections.” 

Um. So does this apply to Labour too? Or are its tax cuts aimed at increasing the role of government and losing elections? And if he is so opposed to them, why is he cutting taxes at all? (Answer: Because Helen Clark’s told him to.)

The hypocrisy of Cullen claiming National promises tax cuts to win elections is quite massive.  Because that is exactly what Clark and Cullen is doing. And trust me National’s desire for tax cuts has little to do with its electoral popularity.  That is just an added bonus.

But then Colin explores another contradiction:

Of more interest to me was another little announcement, on the funding proposals for a major new Auckland motorway project, the Waterview Connection. Cullen revealed that the Government’s preferred option is a massive tunnel, because it would be the least disruptive option. Oh, and because it goes straight through the Prime Minister’s electorate of Mt Albert.

It comes at a massive cost, around $2.3 billion, and Cullen announced that a steering group has been formed to examine whether to undertake the venture as a public-private partnership. (Given that most of those on the steering group are rabid fans of PPPs, I think I know what the answer will be.)

This is somewhat strange, given that just three months ago the Government was beating National around the ears for suggesting the use of public-private partnerships in infrastructure funding. Indeed, the now-departed Steve Maharey told me last October that this Government wouldn’t have a bar of PPPs because they were a discredited and unviable form of funding such projects in this country.

Indeed, just three months ago Labour was hysterically attacking PPPs as evil (despite passing a special law to allow them), and now they are embracing them again.

Consistency isn’t exactly a core value of this Government. And they don’t even have an election loss to blame it on!

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85 Responses to “A very insightful Espiner piece”

  1. roger nome (4,067 comments) says:

    Your writing’s a little off today DPF. Rough night?

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  2. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    Nome:

    Get back to the table and finish eating your dead rat.

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  3. Monty (966 comments) says:

    Cullen’s rat act will not save this desperate and dying Government. If he offered a packet of chewing gum last time, (and then took it back) then this time he will only offer a packet of chips.

    National have held a steady line on tax cuts and have credibility. Cullen will struggle to give back what is deserved to the hard working middle classes –

    And here I think is his big problem – because people receiving WFF pay an effective marginal tax rate approaching 90%, any benefit of tax reduction is going to literally be his infamous packet of chewing gum. Those people are not going to be grateful to him. The people who are likely to benefiit are those in the middle classes who will not vote for Labour regardless – the “rich Pricks” who he despises yet fund his social programmes.

    Cullen really is in a lose lose position with this – and it looks like there will be no swing in support for his government as a result.

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  4. GPT1 (2,106 comments) says:

    Labour goes National-lite!

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  5. BeShakey (405 comments) says:

    Gotta side with Nome on this, that’s a lame analysis, but maybe it says a lot about DPF/National thinking. Cullen suggests he doesn’t buy National’s reasons for tax cuts, and EXPLICITLY states why he is giving them. But because his reasons aren’t the same as Nationals he doesn’t really support tax cuts. Are the Nat supporters getting so used to their parties line being the same as Labours that they struggle to grasp reality when there is an actual difference?

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  6. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    Are the Nat supporters getting so used to their parties line being the same as Labours that they struggle to grasp reality when there is an actual difference?

    Sorry, BeShakey, if anyone is suffering from partisan psychosis here it’s you.
    I guess more fool me for actually taking Cullen at his word in the past on the subject of tax cuts in the past, but you’ve hardly made the case why I should trust him now.

    Now, why don’t you go sit beside Nome, and help him finish his dead rat. I’ve got some crow to follow (so fresh it’s still flip-flopping). Eat all that, there’s a big humble pie with lashing of National-lite diet ice cream for dessert.

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  7. jocko (111 comments) says:

    Read Roger Kerr’s article in today’s Otago Daily Times for the saga of all Cullen’s Budgets since 2000….promises/aspirations vs. realisations.

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  8. Seamonkey Madness (328 comments) says:

    Now who said this:

    “We just don’t believe in tax cuts – it’s against our fundamental philosophy – after all we are socialists and proud of it.

    And now Labour are going National-lite with PPP for roading, surely they can extend that to further building blocks of the wonderful socialist utopia that is NZ, such as health?

    Honestly, if it’s a consistency issue though, Labour should win. They have been consistently crap.
    They will be calling upon all their reserves of (corrosive) venom to try and discredit Key and National in the runup to Labour’s inevitable demise. It will all be in vain, as John Key has made a healthy deposit and HP payments on his Teflon suit.

    Oh dear, I’m babbling….not a good look.

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  9. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Has it worked?

    http://monkeyswithtypewriter.blogspot.com/2008/02/some-responses-to-cullens-tax-cut.html

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  10. slightlyrighty (2,499 comments) says:

    After Cullen’s packageing of WFF as some sort of tax cuts, I see more of the same wealth redistribution packaged as targetted tax releif.

    It hasn’t worked for WFF as the types of middle income families so well pictured in the marketing campaign turned out to have no entitlement whatsoever, and those families are turning away from labour in droves.

    These voters are not looking to Cullen for tax releif, because after 8 years, middle NZ does not see themselves as a priority for this government. They are looking for someone who is, and John Key has already packaged himself as that person. For Cullen to say what he has, in the way that he has said it, will not resonate with swinging voters in the same way.

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  11. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    I mean who is left who will buy into Cullen’s promises – the middle classes? – nope. Students? – nope. Workers? – nope? The rich? – nope. the unemployed? – nope. Maori? – nope. How about graduates? – nope? Skilled migrants? – nope?

    That leaves BeShakey and egermoron, who clearly are having trouble thinking for themselves.
    However, even that aspect of Labour’s voting demographic is steadily getting worn away by the repetitious promise/renege cycle of previous ‘big-announcements’ from Dr. Cullin.

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  12. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    As you may have devined I am not a big fan of the Doc.

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  13. dc (173 comments) says:

    Annette King (then minister of transport) on Public-private partnerships, October 2007:
    http://tinyurl.com/2lhc2l
    “we do not believe we need private sector money to build our roads, because the Government can always borrow more cheaply than the private sector can, and if the Government does allow the private sector to finance roads, the people who will pay are the users—in other words, those who use the roads. They will pay a premium for that.” … “This Government believes in the public ownership of roads. We believe that the Government can pay for roads out of public money, and we believe that the private sector knows how to build them.”

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  14. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left (774 comments) says:

    Got to be honest, I actually believe that if there arent much difference between Labours and National tax cuts policy then we will have very similar results to last election. This time with Nationals nose in front but the left block bigger than the right block.
    Centrebet had Labour-led government at $2.60
    might take some of that

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  15. slightlyrighty (2,499 comments) says:

    So how does Annette King’s statement relate to the Government not borrowing money??? It’s either a good thing to borrow money to pay for infrastructure or not?

    I’m confused

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  16. slightlyrighty (2,499 comments) says:

    Centrebet had Labour-led government at $2.60
    might take some of that

    Why not hedge your bets.. If the nats get in you would get a tax cut, if labour gets in they will find an excuse to not give you one and you’ve got to get your money back somehow.

    win-win I guess.

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  17. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left (774 comments) says:

    yeah true slightlyrighty
    i just like the odds
    seems more 50/50 to me

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  18. Inventory2 (10,178 comments) says:

    What I like the most (Yeah, right!) as an employer, is Cullen’s suggestion that it is MY responsibility to push wages up! I would have thought that was the role of an aspirational government. Oh, that’s right, the ones with aspirations are still in opposition – or more succinctly – government in waiting!!

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  19. PhilBest (5,120 comments) says:

    Presumably if Transmission Gully were in Cullen’s electorate, something would have been done to fund it in spite of the expense of building a road in that terrain.

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  20. GerryandthePM (328 comments) says:

    The private sector involement is Cullen’s little joke to cover the huge extra expense of the tunnel versus the “cut and cover” through Helen (over my dead body) Clark’s electorate, and squeezing the inevitable cost overrun.

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  21. david (2,554 comments) says:

    Transmission Gully comes in at less than the ADDITIONAL cost of boring a tunnel vs “cut and cover”. What do you mean ” …. in spite of the expense of building a road in that terrain.” ?

    What I’d like to know is what have the planners been doing for the lastr 30 years since the road was proposed and initially designed? The bit up to where it is now proposed to vanish into the ground has been largely finished and the white lines are painted on it already and just NOW they are putting up tunnel vs cut and cover proposals not to mention JUST BUILD THE BLOODY ROAD and connect the the NW motorway. “It will be finished by 2015″ !!!! WTF ????

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  22. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    It must be tough to be a lefty these days, a bit like pushing shit up hill with a very sharp stick. The socialists sold their souls to win the last election this election the devil will come for his dues.

    Cullen is really lossing the plot, fancy telling business that they must lift productivity. For fucks sake, if the thieving bastard kept his hands out of their pockets instead of employing leigons of parasites then maybe business would have the cash to expand. Being a socialist it’s easy for Cullen to talk of productivity, when he wants productivity he just takes it.

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  23. burt (8,034 comments) says:

    ssb

    I agree, Cullen and his in-your-pocket command and control govt have shown their true colours. Not content with driving business and labour out of NZ for better conditions he’s now blaming employers for low wages and passing the responsibility to employers to fix the problems his govt have created.

    He’s a moose – a jackass. He (and his Labour fools) have to go!

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  24. virtualmark (1,522 comments) says:

    I agree with Colin’s blog piece … but can’t help wondering what it will take for Colin and his editors to publish these sort of thoughts prominently in their papers?

    Colin is right with his quip about Um. So does this apply to Labour too? Or are its tax cuts aimed at increasing the role of government and losing elections? And if he is so opposed to them, why is he cutting taxes at all? … but mightn’t an insightful and probing journo raise similar sentiments directly with Cullen in a press conference or Q&A session???

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  25. Spam (597 comments) says:

    What I like the most (Yeah, right!) as an employer, is Cullen’s suggestion that it is MY responsibility to push wages up! I would have thought that was the role of an aspirational government.

    To be fair, Labour have done very well to push-up wages. Their policies have forced a lot of people to leave NZ, thereby creating a skill shortfall, and hence wages are being pushed-up.

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  26. Seamonkey Madness (328 comments) says:

    Haha, good call Spam. :D

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  27. PaulL (5,983 comments) says:

    BeShakey: Cullen suggests that he thinks the only reason for tax cuts is winning elections, because he doesn’t believe they grow the economy.

    National do believe they grow the economy, they are offering them for conviction reasons. Cullen doesn’t believe that, so the only reason he could be offering them is for cynical election winning reasons. That is the difference.

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  28. ton (36 comments) says:

    The whole tunnel things sounds like a ‘wag the dog’ to me.

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  29. david (2,554 comments) says:

    ton said “The whole tunnel things sounds like a ‘wag the dog’ to me.”

    Do you mean like the waterfront stadium? a well timed distraction through floating an absurd “it’ll never fly” proposal designed to take attention from woes being experienced elewhere?

    hhhhmmmmm perhaps you are right!

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  30. david (2,554 comments) says:

    We all should have learnt by now that when Cullen waves one hand look out for whose pocket the other one is deep into.

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  31. STC (52 comments) says:

    I will only note that the opposite of “undermining the role of Government in society” is not increasing the role of Government in society.

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  32. PaulL (5,983 comments) says:

    STC, strictly the opposite would be “not undermining the role of government in society.” But I am pretty sure that isn’t in tune with what Cullen meant – if we can wilfully misinterpret National’s enthusiasm for tax cuts as being driven by a desire to undermine the govt, then I’m sure we are entitled to misinterpret his policies to be ever increasing encroachment of the government into the lives of citizens.

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  33. PhilBest (5,120 comments) says:

    “david” at 1.02 PM. I fully agree with you. It has been the cost-benefit ratio that Transit NZ uses that has put Transmission Gully down the list compared to roads that carry less traffic but are cheaper to build. But if any road justified handling on a special need basis, it is that one. It is a bloody disgrace for the main highway out of the capital city of an allegedly first world nation.

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  34. baxter (893 comments) says:

    You quote Mr Espiner as stating “In a strangely schizophrenic speech at times, Cullen also says this: “
    For those few less well educated than myselff this means “Paleface speaks with forked tongue”….The proposal will take until 2014 getting resource consent ,the successful contractors courtesy of the free trade agreement with China will have a whole year to complete the job.

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  35. PhilBest (5,120 comments) says:

    All I meant to say in my original post, was that it is confirming what a hypocrite Cullen is when it comes to an over-the-top expensive project in HIS electorate, when Transmission Gully has been delayed so inexcusably.

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  36. PaulL (5,983 comments) says:

    PhilBest: how about a new National policy. Dual carriageway motorway from Auckland to Wellington, to be completed by 2020. The Australians seem to have managed it from Brisbane->Sydney->Melbourne by setting a target and keeping working towards it. I reckon there could be a lot of voters in that…

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  37. PhilBest (5,120 comments) says:

    Hear, hear.

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  38. ton (36 comments) says:

    David at 2:05 pm – Yep, that’s what I mean :-).

    This government always seems to pull something out of the hat that is intended to distract, just when they need that distraction.

    It is just disgraceful.

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  39. PhilBest (5,120 comments) says:

    Now for Mikhail Kullensky:

    Cullen also says this: “Most people here today know that I am not convinced by the tax cut evangelism of my political opponents. They may talk up the transformative power of tax cuts, but underneath that spin what you will really find is a long-term goal of undermining the role of government in society and winning elections.”

    And if we could plot the respective outcomes of the respective levels of government involvement in society as experienced in real life in modern history, we would find…….?

    It is becoming tempting to consider what the outcome might have been had the Bolsheviks been extreme lassez-faire capitalists who had ruthlessly killed off all the socialists, instead of extreme socialists who killed off all the “bourgoisie”, which included tens of millions of dirt poor people in the process. Russia might have been the worlds wealthiest nation today.

    Notice how Capitalism has NO EQUIVALENT to the Bolsheviks? Or to Pol Pot? Or to the Sendero Luminoso? Or to Che Guevarra? And how, compared to the Left Wing’s “Long March through the Institutions’, just how unnoticeable the distortion of the political process by “big money” has been?

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  40. BeShakey (405 comments) says:

    PaulL and others – Cullen stated EXPLICITLY in his speech why he felt that now was a good time to give tax cuts. Personally I can’t imagine how he could have not felt some pressure on that. But the issue your raising is what he said. In the PAST he said now isn’t a good time for tax cuts, NOW he says it is.

    Notice how the words PAST and NOW are different. Not only are they different, they mean different things. This is the reason that there is no contradiction in saying ‘In the PAST it wasn’t the right time to give tax cuts’ and also saying ‘NOW is the right time to give tax cuts’.

    I doubt it will help, since Cullen was explicit about it in his speech, and it still managed to pass you by, but there are other reasons to give tax cuts other than the ones you offered. You seem to be of the opinion that the only time the government should be allowed to give them is when they want to do it for reasons you approve of. Luckily the vast majority of NZers disagree with you.

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  41. PhilBest (5,120 comments) says:

    Socialism is EEEEEEEEVIL.

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  42. PhilBest (5,120 comments) says:

    BeShakey: “Napoleon is always right”, the loyal horse in Orwell’s “Animal farm” always said, right up to the time that Napoleon had him turned into glue.

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  43. david (2,554 comments) says:

    Beshakey, How do you reconcile your glowing defence (deference?) for the DPM’s about face with his oft quoted “We don’t believe in tax cuts, were Socialists ….” comment?

    The evidence for seeing it for what it really is is just so overwhelming it must be so close to being “proven beyond reasonable doubt” that it is the swallowing of a giant prehistoric rodent and admission of compromise of a core belief.

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  44. PaulL (5,983 comments) says:

    BeShakey, I thought both my quotes were from the same speech, the speech Colin is reporting on. So it is hard to argue that it was qualified with past and future, unless you mean that at the start of his speech it was a bad idea but by the end of his speech things had changed.

    You’re putting words in my mouth and then refuting them. Strawman anyone?

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  45. Ryan Sproull (7,060 comments) says:

    Notice how Capitalism has NO EQUIVALENT to the Bolsheviks? Or to Pol Pot? Or to the Sendero Luminoso? Or to Che Guevarra?

    Those who don’t subscribe to the dominant ideology see plenty of examples of capitalism-driven wars and atrocities.

    And how, compared to the Left Wing’s “Long March through the Institutions’, just how unnoticeable the distortion of the political process by “big money” has been?

    Money has extraordinary influence on politics.

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  46. Ryan Sproull (7,060 comments) says:

    BeShakey: “Napoleon is always right”, the loyal horse in Orwell’s “Animal farm” always said, right up to the time that Napoleon had him turned into glue.

    Quoting a socialist?!

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  47. BeShakey (405 comments) says:

    Paul – not quite a strawman, but still a nice tactic to accuse me of offering a criticism of you that I didn’t, and then refuting it. My issue with your comment was that you highlighted that Cullen dismissed ONE reason for giving tax cuts and therefore there was no possible reason to give one except political desperation. All this, despite the fact he explicitly stated the reason he supported tax cuts.

    I made the point about past and future in relation to others comments, not yours.

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  48. SPC (5,473 comments) says:

    I guess Cullen remembers National cutting benefits because they had a budget deficit, then handing out tax cuts to workers when they had a budget surplus (its called taking from the poor and giving to the better off. Then when faced with recessionary dip in income after the tax cuts then choosing to end the link between Super and the net average wage to save money (to sustainably afford the tax cut?).

    What National does is deliberately choose to hand out cuts in tax whenever in surplus, but when later in the economic cycle (and inevitably so) they go into deficit, they make cuts in government spending affecting those who are reliant on government provision.

    Cullen is right about the ideological oppositon to government and in National’s hands cutting taxes is part of a campaign to undermine government capability – which ensures profits to private providers and hardship on those reliant on government provision.

    Mark these words, Nationals tax cuts will result in claims that tax paid super is unaffordable without a raise in age to 70 (meaning living on SB, IB or UB until 70 if without work or unable to), means testing and or a lower universal income. Already people are advocating changes while we have the surplus and can afford the status quo.

    Why because tax paid super at 65 at 65% of the net average wage is reliant on the Cullen Fund (this from a budget surplus) – over generous tax cuts will result in no more surplus to fund it in long periods of the economic cycle.

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  49. pdm (842 comments) says:

    Beshakey – Cullen is talking about tax cuts (which he will probably never implement) for the following reasons only.

    Helen told him to.
    Current polling.
    Helen told him to.
    It is Election year.
    Helen told him to.
    He knows he won’t have to implement them.
    Helen told him to.

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  50. Ryan Sproull (7,060 comments) says:

    Helen Clark, the elected leader of the country, told a subordinate to do something, and he did it.

    IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD.

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  51. PaulL (5,983 comments) says:

    SPC: crap. Tax paid super is unaffordable, and sooner or later one of our governments will have to deal with it. Ignoring it isn’t an option, and the Cullen fund didn’t fix it (albeit it was a step towards it).

    You are suggesting that National has the view that government can only cut – that when times are good we cut taxes, when times are bad we cut services. I think that is a simplistic view.

    Equally, I could suggest that Labour has the opposite view – we can only increase. When times are good we increase government spending, when times are bad we increase taxes (actually, they seem to have increased taxes when times are good as well). There is a lot of emperical evidence for this.

    Bottom line, the most appropriate level of government expenditure is not some magic constant. It is sometimes appropriate to reduce spending or to reduce taxes. It is sometimes appropriate to increase spending or to increase taxes. Usually, to my mind, this shouldn’t be across the board but should be in targeted areas – so sometimes it is good to spend more on child welfare, sometimes it is good to spend less on superannuation, maybe those two things would happen at the same time.

    I also note that “more” and “less” are nebulous concepts. Nobody ever really reduces spending – government spending increases every year. The only question is whether government spending goes up less than inflation, more than inflation, more than wages etc etc. In the last few years government spending has increased faster than wage growth – government has appropriated the lion’s share of the increased gross wages that individuals have earned. That is the wrong policy setting to my mind.

    I believe that National would prefer a situation where government spending rose, but shrank as a proportion of gross incomes. I would agree that is a better place for government to be – there is a fixed cost to run a government for essential services, as we get wealthier government should shrink as a percentage of GDP.

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  52. BeShakey (405 comments) says:

    “Cullen is talking about tax cuts (which he will probably never implement) for the following reasons only.

    Helen told him to.
    Current polling.
    Helen told him to.
    It is Election year.
    Helen told him to.
    He knows he won’t have to implement them.
    Helen told him to.”

    Guees he must know how the majority of the National caucus are feeling then huh? Except this is only on one issue of course.

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  53. roger nome (4,067 comments) says:

    Paul:

    “Tax paid super is unaffordable, and sooner or later one of our governments will have to deal with it.”

    Um, isn’t that what kiwisaver’s all about? Silly bugger.

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  54. PaulL (5,983 comments) says:

    Roger, Kiwisaver is a start, and is a damn sight better than the Cullen fund. Unfortunately Winston got himself as the figurehead for compulsory super into individual accounts a la Australia, and in doing so got the damn thing killed. That is the right long-term answer (compulsory super, not killing Winston).

    I’m hoping that a future government (of either persuasion) will extend Kiwisaver to a compulsory scheme, and fold the Cullen fund into it. It is one of the few policy measures that this Labour government have gotten right.

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  55. Norman LaRocque (12 comments) says:

    If the PM talked him into tax cuts, I wonder if we’ll see him forced to sit by her side at the V8 Supercar races? :-)

    SPC – how is it that allowing people to keep the money they earn amounts to ‘giving’ to the better off? If you really want to tuck into middle class welfare, why not oppose policies like interest free student loans and kiwisaver, both of which do benefit the wealthy.

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  56. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    I guess Cullen remembers National cutting benefits because they had a budget deficit…

    … because the Fourth Labour Government (which Cullen, Clark and most of the rest of the Government front bench was part of) went into the 1990 campaign lying their arses off about the true state of the books. Thankfully, those heartless Tories and the evil She-Bitch Ruth Richardson passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

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  57. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    Um, isn’t that what kiwisaver’s all about? Silly bugger.

    No, Nome. Not even Cullen is stupid enough to claim that Kiwisaver or the Cullen Fund is the silver bullet here. Of course, if voters think so he’s not going to point out the error of their ways.

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  58. SPC (5,473 comments) says:

    Craig

    None of what you say about the need to balance the books in 1991 (cutting benefits was an option chosen) explains why National later chose to award tax cuts when they had a surplus rather than reverse the cuts in benefits. It speaks to how they deal with budget deficits and surpluses. They use the deficit to cut spending and use the surplus to reduce taxes even though the later will result in future spending cuts (such as not meeting the 65% net average wage Super payments).

    all,

    Kiwi Saver has nothing to do with tax paid super, it’s just a way to save for a top up.

    And while many people on the right want to merge the Cullen Fund into Kiwi Saver and make it compulsory, they do so because they want to end the universal tax paid Super scheme.

    National however for the moment claims to accept the Cullen Fund (and possibly Kiwi Saver) and tax paid Super as is.

    Tax paid super is not unaffordable – our current budget surplus proves that. However distributing it in tax cuts may make tax paid super unaffordable in the future.

    I suggest that many of those pushing for large tax cuts want to make tax paid super unaffordable by making saving for the Cullen Fund too difficult.

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  59. burt (8,034 comments) says:

    Craig R.

    Not even Cullen is stupid enough to claim that Kiwisaver or the Cullen Fund is the silver bullet here.

    Are you sure about that – didn’t comrad Cullen make some statement about KiwiSaver being much much better than tax cuts in budget 2007 ?

    You know one favours the rich and the other …. ummm errr – favours the rich.

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  60. burt (8,034 comments) says:

    SPC

    I suggest that many of those pushing for large tax cuts want to make tax paid super unaffordable by making saving for the Cullen Fund too difficult.

    I suggest that people pushing for large tax cuts are sick of seeing large govt surpluses being squandered on social policy de-jour while they struggle to pay for their mortages, petrol & food. Needless to say people who are having trouble saving get a bit pissed off when the govt is taxing them at 1999 rich prick rates while the govt has a surplus.

    Ideology is a luxury that few can afford !

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  61. John Dalley (394 comments) says:

    three cheers for the Rich Pricks

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  62. PhilBest (5,120 comments) says:

    Ryan Sproull: “Capitalist-driven wars”. Arguable, but how is a WAR equivalent to the mass genocide and terrorisation of your OWN population?

    In the 20th Century, Communist Governments killing their OWN PEOPLE killed more people than ALL THE WARS COMBINED.

    “Money has an extraordinary effect on politics”.

    Agree. The MOST extraordinary thing NOW is that by far the MOST money goes in support of Leftwing Politics.

    Orwell “a Socialist”? When he was young and foolish, yes. When he wrote “Animal Farm”????????????? Come ON.

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  63. PhilBest (5,120 comments) says:

    BTW Ryan Sproull, I RECOMMEND the book “Why Orwell Matters” by Christopher Hitchens. OOOOOH, now I’m quoting an Atheist…………

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  64. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    phil-the-inferior..

    you are a bit of a ‘shouter’..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  65. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    This was a very good article and vdery good comments by DPF.

    But heeeellloooo, wakey wakey politicians. The one thing that middle New Zealanders, from the reasonably far left to the reasonably far right, DO NOT WANT is bloody tolls to pay for infrastruture that we have paid for decades being overtaxed. So PPPs yes, but think again about the revenue gathering part politicians or bring in tolls at your peril.

    Or do we really want yet another thing (raos transport) to become the domain of the rich and the community service card holders.

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  66. Rex Widerstrom (5,330 comments) says:

    I see STC and PhilBest have noticed the same quote that lept out at me, namely:

    They may talk up the transformative power of tax cuts, but… what you will really find is a long-term goal of undermining the role of government in society…

    It seems to me like there’s little or no distinction in his mind between society and government. In other words, Cullen – and many in the Labour cuacus – seem to believe that the interests of government (when run by socialists) and the interests of society are indivisible; that anyone who proposes an alternative philosophy isn’t just undermining “the role of government in society” but the foundations of society itself.

    While there are some on the right who can’t see a role for government beyond defence and law & order most, thankfully, accept a need for practical government intervention in some people’s lives some of the time, the questions being about the nature, the extent and the duration.

    I don’t want a blinded ideologue of the right running the Treasury any more than I want a similar ideologue of the left. And Cullen seems to be veering very close to becoming the latter.

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  67. reid (16,111 comments) says:

    Of course lefties draw no distinction between society and govt, lefties believe in big govt so that we all over time come to depend more upon govt. The issue was, this govt has squandered the opportunities of the last seven years to protect us from the coming shocks. It’s too late now, it’s happened.

    Now we are in uncertain times, economically. So if we do along with the rest of the world take simultaneous hits on the equities, finance and export markets, how is that going to affect us internally? Does it mean that tax cut promises will need to be reconfigured? Probably.

    The thing that reassures me is that this Labour govt has not indicated to any degree that it understands how to run an economy. The only significant thing it has done is to change the industrial relations settings and look out for the stikes when the downturn bites and the unions don’t have Liarbore in power to keep it in check. They have done nothing else, in the best economic times we have ever seen.

    The thing that scares the crap out of me is we will have an inexperienced new govt in power at the very time we will need wise experienced heads at the wheel.

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  68. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    forget the tax cuts..!

    by the end of this year..they will be the last things on your minds..

    you will have more ‘pressing’ issues to worry about..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  69. Zippy Gonzales (485 comments) says:

    A PPP tunnel under Helen’s seat? What next, a space program in Otaki?

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  70. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    reid:
    “The thing that scares the crap out of me is we will have an inexperienced new govt in power at the very time we will need wise experienced heads at the wheel.’
    I concur with most of what you said – but there is a kind of de -evolution which occurs along with the tenure anyone holds on power – the longer they are in the harder of hearing they become. I have to ask who amongst the present bunch are proving themselves ‘wise’ at the moment?
    What may be the salvation of the next lot is that they have learned the hard way that listening and debating is better than closing debate down and ramming.
    At least for the first term, any way.

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  71. Buggerlugs (1,609 comments) says:

    The thing that scares the crap out of me is we will have an inexperienced new govt in power at the very time we will need wise experienced heads at the wheel.

    That’s why we have public servants, in lifetime tenure. Scared now?

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  72. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    I hope noone is silly enough to buy the line – which I first heard used by Muldoon – “of vote for us, the present government because we’re experienced and the other lot aren’t”, if that were a reasonable argument we would never ever have changes in government.

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  73. SPC (5,473 comments) says:

    I suppose someone should raise an obvious question or two.

    Why not a rail system from the airport to Albany?

    If everyone is stuck in cars when petrol prices double again – there will not be any money left in the budget surplus to pay for their rising fuel bills each year. So why not build a rail system?

    Are not PP partnerships preferrred by those who need to finance projects by debt, does this government? And is not the cost the guarantee of profit to the private partner, why do this when the government does not need the money (unless it gives away too much in tax cuts?)

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  74. vto (1,128 comments) says:

    Cullen is very obviously dead meat.

    and he is beginning to smell that way

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  75. vto (1,128 comments) says:

    you know… like dead meat

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  76. Tauhei Notts (1,650 comments) says:

    Bookies’ update.
    Helen $2.60
    Hillary $2.85
    Obama $2.75
    Hillary’s odds have dropped from $1.75 to $2.85 as she acquires the popularity of Cullen & Clark.

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  77. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    ‘dream on’..vto..

    i think you/dpf/ratbiter..and a few of the other ‘numbnuts’ that lurk in these parts..are the only ones who put any credence in this ‘destabilising’ spin being engineered by natty hq..

    (and ‘run’ by dpf..)

    that one of goff trying for/’deserving’..(take your pick)..either clarks’ or cullens’ jobs..

    feckin’ idjits..!

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  78. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    and ya hafta ask..

    who is in the natty wings..eying keys’ job..?

    (for after he loses the upcoming election..?..)

    my money is on katherine rich..!

    (and of course..as simon (‘all the way with bush!’) power lies in bed at night..

    ..in his (ironed/pin-striped) jim-jams..

    he lets such fantasies have their run..)

    we all know that..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  79. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    (there is a rumour/piece of folk-lore..

    that as a baby/toddler…

    power had pin-stripes on his nappies..

    (his mother is refusing to comment..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  80. Richard Hurst (797 comments) says:

    Philu is @ whoar with every one it seems.

    He is making..less
    and…less..sense
    every..post..he
    makes…

    time..
    to…
    up..
    the..
    medication…

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  81. PhilBest (5,120 comments) says:

    VTO, your comments remind me of some of those old gabardine-and-fedora-wearing Kremlin stalwarts who used to die in office and looked increasingly like walking corpses up till then. There was even a joke at one time that some of them were actually embalmed corpses who were only being propped up by the people on either side of them. Choosing a successor being one of the “biggie” problems that beset the Kremlin.

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  82. PhilBest (5,120 comments) says:

    See any paralells?

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  83. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    aahh!!!

    that’s better..!

    you were right..!..

    dick..!

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  84. Duxton (595 comments) says:

    philu…

    there is a rumour/piece of folk-lore..

    that philu…

    loves babies/toddlers…

    in pin-stripped nappies…

    or out of them….

    especially out of them….

    must be a Labour thing…..

    eh?…….

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  85. Jum (137 comments) says:

    Duxton

    It is certainly hard labour reading your rubbish.

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