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Daily View: Spending cuts

Clare Spencer | 09:35 UK time, Monday, 7 June 2010

CutsCommentators consider the government's spending cuts.

The Times editorial says the central task is working out how to cut while but distributing the pain fairly:

"Quite apart from their intrinsic undesirability, tax rises will cause a political tempest. Faced with opposition from his own party, Mr Cameron may have to water down his proposals for rises in capital gains tax that were designed to pay for lifting the threshold at which the payment of income tax begins. The decision of Mr Osborne as Chancellor not to reverse a tax rise on pension contributions that he inherited from Labour has brought protests from the business lobby that extra levies on entrepreneurs lose tomorrow a lot more than they gain today."

In the Telegraph Matthew Moore says the Canadian cuts offer a model that the Tories wish to emulate:

"Canada's cost-cutting programme saw its science budget halved, while agricultural subsidies, overseas aid and transport were also badly hit.
 
"But a swift and effective cost-cutting programme turned this deficit into a surplus within five years, while pulling the country out of recession and into economic growth.
 
"Between 1992 and 1996 central government departments saw their budgets cut by an average of 20 per cent...
 
"By releasing details of the spending programmes and public sector salaries approved by Labour, and establishing a 'star chamber' to advise on potentially controversial cuts, Mr Cameron is taking inspiration from the Canadian model.
 
"As provincial governments saw their health grants slashed, thousands of nurses were sacked and hospital waiting times soared. The shortage of new buildings also led to overcrowding and higher infection rates on wards.
 
"But Canadians credit the success of the programme to speed and depth of the cuts. The previous government of Brian Mulroney, a Conservative, had failed to reduce the deficit with a more cautious approach."

Conservative MP John Redwood argues in his blog that cutting public spending does not stop recovery:

"There is unfortunately no subsititute for a country like the UK working harder to earn its preferred living standards. There is only so much we can borrow to put off the necessary adjustment to our economy. The UK economy needs to make and produce more to sell in world markets and needs to produce more of the goods and services we ourselves need in an efficient manner. It's no good flexing the credit card one more time when you are nearly bust. You need to get a better paid job and start paying off the mortgage."

Andrew Rawnsley says in the Guardian that this is the test which will make or break the coalition:

"The Lib Dem leader has set himself a test which is both highly commendable and extremely difficult when he pledges that the coalition can cut without leaving the devil to devour the hindmost. His ability to keep that promise will depend on how much power he truly wields in this coalition and how fierce he is as a champion of progressive values. It is over this issue above all else that we will discover whether the Tories see the Lib Dems as genuine partners or merely useful idiots."

Peter McKay says in a Daily Mail piece called Dave plays bad cop to nice Nick that the cuts are highlighting the problems around a coalition government:

"David Cameron tells his supporters there are years of pain ahead and that deep spending cuts are required. But his political partner, Nick Clegg, says he'll make sure there will be no return to the savage cuts of Margaret Thatcher in the eighties...
 
"Most confusing of all, how can Cameron and Clegg be as one while making announcements which contradict each other? Being former public schoolboys must help. Isn't it ingrained in them to act reasonably, even if they don't feel like it? Privately, they might be enormously vain, selfish creatures, but they are trained to appear otherwise."

In the Guardian, Michael White argues that "soothing words from Nick Clegg" may not be enough:

"[L]ike many sensible people I have my doubts about the wisdom of this carefully choreographed exercise ahead of the chancellor's 22 June budget. If they do what they say - I am still hoping that they don't meant it - the cure could be a bit like applying leeches to 18th century patients: worse than the disease.
 
"It was wholly predictable that when they came to power they would open the Treasury books and declare it all to be much worse than they feared. All new governments say that. So it doubtless is in some respects."

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