A great man once said, "Politics is inherently stupid." That great man was me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Green Shift or Green Shaft?

"Dion's 'green shift' to reduce taxes by $15 billion"

Correct me if I am wrong, but if Dion's 'Green Shift' (read: Carbon Tax) raises taxes by 15.5 billion, and then (supposedly) cuts them by the same amount, then isn't this headline misleading, or just plain incorrect? And here I was under the impression that it would be 'revenue neutral'. Is it too much to ask for an accurate headline (Also notice the lack of a comments section and a comprehensive review of opposition critique)?

On a separate note, if I were a Tory strategist, I would be focusing less on kitschy 'shift' puns and more on the following little doozy:

"The proposed green tax will hit electricity and home heating fuel but exempt gasoline. The Liberals have acknowledged that oil companies may pass the cost of the tax on to consumers."

Translation: if you're a on a fixed income and already facing high home heating costs (hello, seniors and single parents), you're going to be hit by Dion's green shift. Hard. If the Tories are smart they will sell that message to voters, big time.

They would also be wise to play up the fact that, by the Liberal Party's own admission, Canadians will almost surely be hit in the pocketbook as oil companies pass on the cost of a 'revenue-neutral' carbon tax to consumers. With Canadians facing already skyrocketing energy costs, this is guaranteed to be a major source of opposition to any proposed carbon tax. And unlike Dion's plan for counterbalancing tax cuts, the auditor general can't look at Big Oil's books to ensure Canadians aren't getting the shaft.

A further issue is the lack of transparency involved in offering a series of complex tax cuts to Canadians in an attempt to maintain revenue neutrality. Dion says he will ask the Auditor General to report each year on the carbon tax to ensure that it is revenue neutral. But with such a plethora of adjustments to be made to the Canadian tax code, this may prove in the end to be quite difficult to accomplish. It is indeed possible that, over time, taxpayer dollars may vanish into the murky depths of budgetary updates and spring financial reviews. Canadians will likely be concerned about the transparency of such a series of complex tax cuts and the Tories would do well to exploit that.

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