I've been commenting on some other blogs that the budget is a hot potato. Neither the Conservatives or Liberals want to contribute significant ideas, for fear of being blamed for spending which doesn't work and for any resulting deficit.
The Conservatives desperately want to take some suggestions from the opposition so they can share the blame for any future economic problems. I won't beat them up too much over what's happened so far, other than spending away the contingency buffer. Canada didn't start this mess, it wasn't the Conservatives.
The Liberals are demanding better numbers from Flaherty before responding with suggestions. This may be partisan defense against being forced to make budget suggestions. If Flaherty doesn't cough up new numbers (or too late) the Conservatives appear uncooperative. If Flaherty comes back with optimistic numbers again, he'll appear to be lying (again). So I expect he'll come back with more pessimistic numbers. Both he and Harper have being managing expectations this week.
It is understandable to demand realistic numbers before contributing suggestions, and it might not be a partisan response but a necessary one. However Brison and MacCallum may already have their own numbers which may be close enough.
So what could the Liberals suggest for the budget? I guess that depends on knowing more about economics than I do. I'm a layman, speculating here. But this is a blog and that's my prerogative.
I think the worry is so many people curtail spending that demand falls, followed by deflation, which reduces demand, etc. in a spiral. So how to keep people spending?
Well, people need confidence in their jobs, and in the economy. I know the latest fed rate cut gave me cause for concern - I don't think it can go any lower, literally. I'm not worried about my job, but I work for the federal government. I bet everyone else is worried.
I guess the government spending is proposed to offset the drop in non-government spending. But how can infrastructure spending substitute for consumer spending? Surely there would still be job loss as the economy shifts from producing (distributing, etc.) consumer goods to infrastructure.
Much to consider. If anyone has some good links, drop me a pointer and I'll follow them up.