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Daily View: Spend or save?

Clare Spencer | 09:49 UK time, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Alistair DarlingOn the day of Alistair Darling's pre-Budget report, commentators ponder the best way to set spending plans to get the UK out of recession.

In the Guardian Will Straw gathers his evidence for the case against spending cuts:

"The simple truth is that slashing public spending prematurely, in the absence of private sector demand, could result in a second recession with unemployment benefits once again rising and a lower tax take. The great irony is that this approach would result in an even worse deficit in the long run."

The Times leader column says the main criterion by which to judge the PBR will be its depth and detail in addressing the deficit:

"To achieve fiscal sustainability, the size of the State must now be reduced by abandoning named programmes and departments. Mr Darling must explain how and where."

The Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable says in the Times that Alistair Darling will be respected if he makes the hard decision to cut spending:

"A generation ago Jenkins earned the nation's trust as he turned the economic crisis around. He told the truth. He made the rich pay their share. And he did the job in the national, not party, interest. Mr Darling and his successor, whoever it is, will have to lead the country through five years of hard economic slog. They won't go far wrong if they follow in Jenkins's footsteps."

Philip Johnston in the Telegraph says only privatising large parts of the state will reduce public spending. He's frustrated by the lack of variety between the parties on their spending proposals:

"Depressingly, the Labour and Conservative spending plans for the coming years do not differ greatly - and nor can they if the grounds for disagreement are so narrow. We know from recent history that efficiency savings do not stop the growth of public spending."

Hamish McRae in the Independent says economic growth will come irrespective of government policies, so the budget deficit is what the pre-Budget report should focus on. And this has a knock-on effect on policies regarding bankers:

"The place it has to go to borrow these hundreds of billions is the City; there is nowhere else. Yet it bad-mouths anything and anyone connected with finance. How bright is that?"

David Herdson at Political Betting speculates on what the pre-Budget report will tell us about Labour's manifesto:

"The politics again looks like aiming to create dividing lines. The leaks point strongly to bankers' bonuses getting hit, though with that having already generated headlines, I suspect there's another rabbit to be pulled from that hat - not least because bankers' bonuses isn't creating a dividing line."

Paul Staines, known as the political blogger Guido Fawkes, predicts Alistair Darling may announce a raise in VAT, which he expresses surprise at:

"If you are going to hit the low paid hardest with indirect taxes surely it makes sense to compensate them by raising the income tax threshold accordingly? Lower taxes for the low paid has got to be a vote winner."

Links in full

Will Straw | Guardian | Don't kill the green shoots, Darling
Simon Jenkins | Guardian | Lord, make me slash back bureaucracy. But not yet
Times | Credibility deficit
Vince Cable | Times | Slay sacred cows and be candid with the market
Philip Johnston | Telegraph | Ignore the promises of cuts - the state is set up to spend
Hamish McRae | Independent | In the end it's the deficit that counts
David Herdson | Political Betting | Could the PBR point to an early election?
Paul Staines | Guido Fawkes' blog | Hitting the poorest hardest with VAT hikes

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