Spend less or tax more?
"Don't penalise the drivers of older cars"... "Compensate the 10p tax losers"... "Help hard-pressed families dependant on public sector wages"... "Don't force businesses to move abroad to escape higher taxes."
The demands on the public finances grow and grow just as they themselves are shrinking. Corporation tax revenue from the financial services is going down. Stamp duty from the slumping housing market is, some believe, likely to halve.
If unemployment does go up, as some predict, that will be yet another cost on the Exchequer. There is, therefore, a gap between what politicians of all parties are demanding and the cash to pay for it. And very little of our political debate just now is about where to find the money.
It can only come from one of two places: Spending much less or taxing more. That latter option seems to be politically almost impossible.
The Treasury has come up with wheeze after wheeze to raise more tax and every one is met with huge public resistance. The problem the Chancellor faces, having backed down repeatedly on tax in the past year, is that people have learned that if they shout loud enough, they get their way.
What voters would be well advised to do is ask any politician, or indeed, anyone else demanding extra spending, where on earth will the money come from?
PS: Can't help noticing the intriguing leader in the Times this morning, penned by the newspaper's new chief leader writer Danny Finkelstein. The leader demands a clearer vision from David Cameron and is written by an arch Tory moderniser. Intriguing.