Managing expectations the Jim Flaherty way!

Fresh off the Canadian Press newswire (emphasis added): 

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the government is not looking to cut spending as it prepares to table its budget later this month, but notes that Canada is caught in a worldwide recession and drastic actions are required to help Canadians.

“This is not a cutting exercise. We are in extraordinary times. It calls for some extraordinary thinking,” Mr. Flaherty said in Victoria on Monday. “The deficit will be substantial.” […]

First thought: Wow, the folks at the Fraser Institute must be wondering why they bothered to show up for today’s pre-budget confab in Victoria, what with recommending that the government take exactly the opposite approach (well, except for the tax cuts, which are still on the table as far as we know). Also, good for CP pointing out that these are, in fact, closed door meetings and not the usual pre-budget free-for-all held by the Finance committee. 

Second thought: Is this the first time that the word “failed” has been so casually employed to describe last fall’s economic statement? Not that ITQ is arguing that it wasn’t, but technically, it hasn’t failed yet, at least as far as being voted down by the House of Commons.

Final thought: “Extraordinary thinking” and a “substantial deficit,” huh? Oh, minister. Are you trying to get out in front of the unnamed senior PMO official who predicted that you were poised to bring down one of the most important budgets in modern Canadian history? I mean, I get the part about priming public opinion for a sudden slide from the black to the red, fiscally speaking, but it’s getting tough to tell the difference between your fiscal prognostications and the worst case scenarios that the opposition parties have been coming up with for months. Then again, maybe you figure that this way, if you manage to keep the deficit under say, $60 billion, even fiscally conservative voters will be pleasantly surprised.

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