Budget 2014: Don't Just Read the Label, Look inside the Tin

So, Fine Gael has caved in to Labour. There will now be only €2.5 billion in fiscal adjustments (read: austerity), not €3.1 billion.  A victory for the junior partner or a necessary concession given the general austerity fatigue; regardless the reason, less cuts and taxes.  But how can we be sure?  Given what has happened over the last two budgets, I would urge caution. By Michael Taft (First published on Notes on the Front).

Why downsizing the public sector is economically daft

Whatever the reasons for cutting public sector employment and or pay, reducing the deficit is not one of them. By Michael Taft.

With negotiations over an extension of the Croke Park Agreement starting yesterday, it is helpful to remind ourselves how daft it is to downsize the public sector payroll in the hopes it will reduce the deficit.

Be glad you're not living in one of those terrible high-tax countries

Is higher taxation a bar to high investment levels? Obviously not - otherwise Ireland would be a league leader. By Michael Taft.

The Government seems to have done a U-turn on the issue of tax exiles. Despite the Programme for Government’s commitment on the issue, the Sunday Business Post reports that following an avalanche of submissions from the likes of the American Chamber of Commerce, etc. the Minister for Finance looks to do nothing. Why? Because it would undermine investment.

Deflationary, dispiriting, depressing

That Budget 2013 was pretty much what we expected is probably the most depressing thing about it. By Michael Taft.

Child Benefit cuts, PRSI rises, respite care cuts, property tax, pension caps (eventually) – how does the budget look when we stand back from the individual elements? What is the narrative? How does it fit with what the Government is projecting over the medium-term?

Why some people will get hit very hard

That the most vulnerable will also get hit merely reinforces the view that whatever the government does, it has little to do with social equity or economic rationality; never mind ‘protecting the vulnerable’. By Michael Taft.

Means-test central

If means-testing delivers resources to those most in need, then we should have seen this in Ireland. But have we? By Michael Taft.

The Troika is at it again – putting pressure on the Government to do something. This time the ‘something‘ is to introduce more means-testing.

The unemployment crisis: A modest 0.7% response

During periods of enforced unemployment, where the private markets cannot employ people who want to work, the state should employ people until sufficient job creation commences. By Michael Taft.

Even the Government admits their policies are having little effect on job creation. They expect unemployment to remain at 13% by 2015, a fall of only one percentage point since they took office. The number of people at work will only grow by 12,000 over the lifetime of this government. Truly, we are into a period of medium-term stagnation.