Suppose Iggy proposes an amendment to the budget. He can do this before deciding whether to vote for or against the budget. Offering a proposal makes the Liberals appear more collaborative, co-operative, constructive, etc.
There are three outcomes:
A) The amendment fails to pass. This means it was not supported by either the government, the NDP or the BQ. OK, I guess either the BQ or NDP could support it, but not both. Result: Iggy can safely pass the budget and avoid accepting responsibility for it. Since the coalition didn't support him he can justify not defeating the budget based on that lack of support from partners. Further, Iggy can run an election campaign filled with "I told you so, but you didn't listen".
B) The amendment passes with coalition support. I don't expect this, because then it would force the coalition to vote for the budget. After all, why pass an amendment then defeat the budget? It makes you look foolish. However, it could happen - how could the NDP argue against the ideas of a Liberal partner? I'll leave that as an exercise for Mr. Layton.
C) The amendment passes with Conservative support. Depending on what's in the budget this could anger the Conservative supporters further, a dangerous choice for Mr. Harper. It makes him appear even weaker. I don't expect this outcome is very likely, but it is possible. Voting for the amendment would guarantee passage of the budget and continued government. In this case, expect Harper to return and exact his revenge in the future sometime. To quote Mr. Burns - "I'll let the sword of Damacles dangle about his head, while I bide my time. Yes, excellent." Result: Iggy demonstrates he's the most powerful man in the house, and gets what he asked for - so be careful. On the downside, he must share the responsibility which is probably suicide.
I expect Iggy's best outcome would be A), so I expect a very aggressive amendment designed to fail, yet provide help for the next campaign. EI restructuring, limits to tax cuts and easing restrictions so municipalities can access the money easier, faster are my guesses.
We'll see, in just 3.5 hours.
Overall I thought the budget was the best I expected from Harper, and I must give him full credit for trying. If you've seen my comments around other blogs, I never expected Harper to deliver a budget with so little conservatism - and my evidence is over at the Blogging Tories. He certainly appears to be on the ropes... for now. But he must not be underestimated.