Age of austerity
The age of abundance is over. Welcome to the age of austerity.
For years politicians have argued about how to spend the proceeds of growth. For years to come they will have to argue about what should be cut.
They are, however, very wary of how the public will react.
Thus, the chancellor simply refused to use the word "cuts" when I interviewed him this morning (see below). This despite the fact that he used the word "cut" very liberally to describe less severe Tory plans made at the last election. He persists in implying that "efficiency savings" will be enough to produce the tightest squeeze on spending since the war. It won't.
Even now projects to rebuild further education colleges, schools and hospitals have been cancelled as capital expenditure has been chopped. What's more the whole of the public sector is bracing itself for a squeeze the like of which few have experienced before.
The government promises that schools and hospitals will not be affected. What about old people's homes, social services, prisons, colleges not to mention transport schemes, defence projects, the police and all the other costs? They may not fit neatly into the false distinction which is often made between spending on nurses and teachers ("good") and spending on Whitehall bureaucrats ("bad") but if they are cut people will really notice.
None of this is meant to imply that cuts are or aren't a good thing. I simply point out that the public are not being told what's in store.
The opposition parties have also been mightily reluctant to spell out what they might cut. This week the Lib Dems hinted that Trident might be for the chop along with the target of sending 50% of young people to university and tax credits for those on above average incomes. The Tories refuse to go beyond their old favourites - scrapping the ID card scheme and regional assemblies.
The think tank Reform came up with its own proposals for cuts this week.
Who'll be the first politician to offer their own proposals?
Update 1607: You can see below the full version of my interview today with the chancellor; I began by asking him about the levels of borrowing.