They Must Be Kidding

By:  Rachel Marsden

Is this a federal election campaign or a Sotheby's auction for our votes? While it's great that the parties are actually fighting over tax cuts for once, do they also have to blatantly treat this country like it's a giant food bank line and we're all just in line for the goodies?

Stephen Harper's promise to cut the GST by 1% (2% in five years) is a great start -- I don't care what economists say. Yes, I realize that income tax cuts would far more useful, but when you've been starving, you're not going to hold out for caviar. Besides, the GST cut makes for way better election-time PR: Most people don't understand income taxes -- as evidenced by the fact that accounting firms have really nice lobbies.

But if Harper truly wanted to differentiate himself from the tax-and-spend Liberals, he would have vowed to scrap the GST entirely while promising to cut government spending. As former U.S. president Ronald Reagan said, government is the problem.

Instead, after that great tax-cutting manoeuvre, Harper spun around and did something disastrously Liberalesque. He vowed to increase spending by another $2.5 billion annually through annual cash gifts of $1,200 to every child under the age of six.

Here's how this "daycare plan" whitewash is really going to work: Low income earners won't be able to find care for the price of a daily Starbucks coffee. High income types will be able to transfer the bonus to their stay-at-home spouse, so people like you and me end up paying to raise the Rosedale crowd's kids. Meanwhile, middle-class families with two working parents will only see a fraction of the handout after it gets factored into their sky-high income taxes.

Adam Taylor of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation estimates that the real cost of daycare works out to more than $30 billion per year, and says that the Liberal policy to warehouse kids "has gun registry and Kyoto written all over it" in terms of disastrous spending.

While the Tory option allows for more parental choice, it's like putting a spoiler and mag wheels on a Ford Pinto. Politicians need to get out of the child-rearing business entirely, and leave it to the parents who chose to have them.

A real conservative would lower taxes significantly so people can spend or invest more of their own money as they see fit -- on child care or otherwise. Reagan signed off on the biggest cut in U.S. history, while George W. Bush cut taxes four times in four years, calling it "the agenda of a government that knows its limits and shows its heart."

Speaking of not knowing one's limits, here in Canada, the Liberals have been binging like drunks at last call. They've spent the last decade rifling through our wallets, and the last thing we need now is for the Conservatives to step in, take out a few more bills, and hand them over to the little brats of some couple in Forest Hill.

And before someone trots out the tired argument that by cutting government bloat, conservatives will have people dying in the streets, let me ask: Do you really think this country and its people are that pathetic?

I'm all for having a great social safety net -- for those who actually need it. And like in America, people should have to work for their free handout, not just sit at home watching Oprah. I choose to think that Canada can do better than this. Too bad we don't seem to have a single federal party leader who thinks likewise.