Thursday, May 03, 2012

Parliamentary Budget Officer Lambastes Harper Conservatives

Ralph Goodale knows a little bit about Parliament... And his latest info on the recent Parliamentary Budget Officer's Report (a Harper appointee, by the way) is a great read:


The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) has just issued another report – backed by solid facts and figures – that destroys Conservative justifications for cutting Old Age Pensions while spending mega-billions on F-35 “stealth” fighter-jets.

Both of these are long-term issues.  The pension cuts begin about 10 years from now, and get phased-in over a further seven years.  That is exactly the same period during which the fighter-jets would be purchased. 

Are these planes being bought with money taken from seniors?  It’s hard to avoid that conclusion.

Anyone under the age of 54 today, beware!  Your Old Age Pension won’t be there for you when you turn 65.  You’ll have to wait longer.

This breaks an explicit Stephen Harper election promise.  It’s an attack on the lowest-income seniors because they’re the ones who lose the most.  And no money is saved overall, because the burden just shifts onto provincial welfare.

Most importantly, this mean-spirited maneuver is entirely unnecessary.  Canada’s Old Age Pension is already fully affordable and financially sound for the long term.  Punting the age from 65 years up to 67 is NOT required to keep it sustainable.

The PBO makes a telling point about timing: 

Mr. Harper says the big problem is all those retiring Baby-Boomers.  But his plan to delay eligibility won’t be fully phased-in for 17 years, until 2029.  That pretty well misses the Boomer-Bulge altogether. By 2030, they’ll have largely worked their way through the system, and costs will steadily decline.

As for the planes, the Airforce says they need at least 65 new fighter-jets to replace their ageing CF-18s.  Mr. Harper claims to have frozen the budget for all “acquisition costs” at $9-billion.  For that, the PBO calculates, the government can get just 40 of these ultra-expensive planes, not 65.

So who is telling the truth – Stephen Harper or the PBO?

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